The Indian Economy (Page 47)

jagdu IF-Dazzler

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[diwali1] hspace0 Hindu Temple of Minnesota

Members of the Hindu Temple of Minnesota perform an offering to Goddess Lakshmi during Diwali.

On Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights, Shweta Mundhra will cook food all morning, adorn her newest and brightest sari and arm herself with fresh flowers, fruit and dried nuts for the gods. The 30-year-old mother of two will then hop on a train and head not to a temple or a friend's home but to the office of JP Trades Inc., her family's wholesale gemstone business in downtown Chicago, to bless the books. We take out all of our office files, change them over to new files, and put tikkas religious marks on them, says Ms. Mundhra, who with her husband runs the company. She will then place flowers, fruit and nuts at the feet of various statues of gods as an offering for blessings on the business. The five-day Diwali festival is as important to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians. Leading up to the festival, dozens of special dishes are prepared, houses are cleaned, candles lit, sweets are distributed and, in India, firecrackers are set off in huge celebrations. But for some followers, Diwali is as much about the awareness of the inner light, its literal meaning, as it is the opportunity to ask the gods for a fortuitous balance sheet.

Hindu Temple of Minnesota

A community prayer at the Hindu Temple of Minnesota during Diwali.diwali2 hspace0

The financial aspect of Diwali was first started centuries ago in Western India, where many families owned businesses and the holiday was considered the official start of the new year. Handwritten ledger books were traditionally closed on the holiday, and new ones were opened and blessed by a priest. The practice soon became recognized and adopted by many throughout India and overseas. This year, with the effects of the recession in full force, Hindu temples are bracing for an onslaught of Diwali devotees. Some are even preparing special ceremonies for those seeking financial blessings. The first few months of the year were really bad, says Ms. Mundhra, whose gemstone sales were down 40% in the first six months versus the same period a year ago. When we pray this year, we will be saying, give more money and prosperity to this house. Based on the Hindu calendar, the actual date of Diwali changes every year, but always occurs during the new moon in October or November. This year, it falls on Oct. 17. Hindus believe Diwali is the day Lord Rama returned to the holy kingdom of Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. He was greeted with rows upon rows of lit diyas, or small clay lamps, celebrating the triumph of good over evil. It is said that homes that glow the brightest will be the ones to best attract the attention and blessings of Goddess Lakshmi, who symbolizes the earth, wealth, prosperity and abundance. A deity of near-cult status among Hindus, the goddess is often depicted with coins falling from her hands. Most devotees will light up their homes with lamps and candles, distribute sweets and visit a temple they regard the holiday as a time to start new projects and relinquish grudges. But the growing group that recognizes the financial aspects of the holiday will go through a formal prayer ceremony called Sharada, or Chopda Puja accounts prayer. The Hindu Temple Society of North America in Flushing, N.Y., one of the first Hindu temples built in the U.S., began offering the accounts puja 10 years ago after some of its 14,000 members began asking for it. For the first time this year, the Hindu Temple Society offered a special financial prayer in February to boost members' spirits; many said they wanted the blessing to help relieve stress over lost jobs.  For the accounts puja, participants must first pray to Lord Ganesha, the elephant god, to clear their minds and hearts of any distractions that could interfere with prayers. A fistful of rice yellowed with turmeric powder and a bright silver coin of Goddess Lakshmi are placed in a stainless steel plate. A priest then blesses the offering along with the devotees' accounting books. At some temples, people bring their laptops, iPods, stethoscopes, power tools or any other business essentials to be blessed. 

Pakistani Hindu women light earthen lamps on Diwali.diwali3 hspace0

This year the Hindu Temple Society expects up to 6,000 worshippers it doubled its seating capacity earlier this year to accommodate its growing crowd for festivals.  It's quite possible this Diwali there will be even more people here for the accounts puja says Dr. Uma Mysorekar, president and co-founder of the temple.  Computers, checkbooks and accounting records are already being dropped off at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Bartlett, Ill., where over 500 prayer plates have been ordered. Last year as many as 400 people showed up for the accounts puja; this year, the temple expects up to 700. It's the same story at the Hindu Temple of Minnesota, in Maple Grove, where priests are preparing to tend to up to 12,000 expected visitors about a thousand of which organizers say will be there for the accounts puja. Why wouldn't someone do it? says Harish Patel, spokesman for the Bartlett Swaminarayan temple. People know that businesses are run by acumen, management and strategy. But more are starting to recognize that even in business, there's the involvement of the divine. Mahendra Nath, once the fourth-largest franchise owner of Burger Kings in the U.S., has never missed a Diwali celebration since migrating from India in 1964. He and his wife plan to light candles and other lamps in their St. Paul, Minn., home to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, and will bow their heads for financial success in the year ahead. This year, they'll ask for just a little more. We will pray for the recession to end fast and have a better business going forward, says Mr. Nath, who also owns three hotels and several fine-dining restaurants through the Midwest. His business has suffered as corporate accounts have shrunk.  Komal Patel, a 22-year-old college graduate living with her parents in Westmont, Ill., is praying, too that she gets into medical school. She plans to take her laptop computer with her to the Bartlett Swaminarayan temple on Saturday.  The computer is my life, says Ms. Patel. I want it to be blessed so I can have a future that is blessed.

jagdu IF-Dazzler

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Posted: 16 October 2009 at 8:59am | IP Logged
India's richest man announced he will voluntarily cap his compensation at 150 million rupees ($3.3 million) this year, saying  that he will get by on about a third of his take-home pay from the previous year. Mukesh Ambani's flagship company, Reliance Industries, said his decision reflects his desire to set a personal example of moderation. In 2008, he made 66% more, or 440.2 million rupees ($9.6 million), a drop in the bucket of his overall wealth, which Forbes magazine puts at $19.5 billion. In March, Mukesh's younger brother, Anil, decided to forego all compensation this year, Tony Jesudasan said. Last fiscal year, Anil received 520.8 million rupees ($11.3 million). The two brothers are locked in a bitter dispute over the spoils of their father Dhirubhai's empire which is scheduled to go before India's Supreme Court next week. The global debate over executive compensation has largely bypassed India, where compensation is already regulated and economic growth has remained relatively strong. The instabilities India suffered after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008 were seen largely as imported problems, rather than domestic issues that required structural reform. Also, Indian executives make far less than their Western counterparts on average 1/100th as much. But as India where more than 450 million people live on less than $1.25 a day struggles to make sense of its robust but inequitable economic growth, the government has repeatedly asked executives to exercise restraint. By early 2008, the ratio of the net worth of India's 50 billionaires to total gross domestic product was over 20% higher than in Brazil, Mexico and Russia. The country, it seems, is caught between two heroes: Mohandas Gandhi, the ascetic father of Indian independence, and the Ambani brothers' father, Dhirubhai one of India's most successful and controversial early capitalists, accused by critics of unscrupulous business practices. As the government battles a rising fiscal deficit, a few public officials have taken pay cuts and trimmed perquisites, part of the ruling Congress Party's austerity drive. Corporate leaders have been slower to follow. This month, Minister of Corporate Affairs Salman Khurshid warned against excessive executive pay, prompting a flurry of complaints among business leaders. I don't think anyone in India today, in politics or outside politics has reached the level of liberalism where vulgarity is also a fundamental right, Mr. Khurshid told. His comments echoed a 2007 idea given by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to a business group in which he urged executives to eschew conspicuous consumption and resist excessive remuneration, which he warned could deepen inequalities and fuel social unrest. For the moment, however, there are no concrete plans to place additional regulations on executive pay. India's Companies Act of 1956 places caps on executive compensation that are linked to a public company's net revenue. Executives who want to be paid more must apply to the government for special approval, which is hard to obtain. Bankers face additional scrutiny: Their salaries must be vetted by the central bank. Vikram Shroff, head of employment law at Mumbai's Nishith Desai Associates, said some other Indian executives whose companies have seen revenues fall as a result of the global downturn may soon follow the Ambani brothers' example. If the company hasn't reached its targeted revenues, senior executives may be willing to take a temporary pay cut, he said. It's just to give a strong message that they remain responsible. If the company is not doing well, why should they take a bonus?
jagdu IF-Dazzler

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A passenger train crashed into another train's rear carriage reserved for women and disabled passengers, killing 21 people and injuring 17 who remained trapped for hours near the Taj Mahal in northern India, police said.
Onlookers stand at the site of a train accident on the outskirts of the northern Indian city of Mathura October 21, 2009. Train accident

Rescuers used gas cutters to open the wrecked compartment to free trapped passengers following the collision near Agra, the site of the famed white-marble monument about 130 miles 210 kilometers southeast of New Delhi, said Rajesh Bajpai, railways. Rescuers recovered 19 bodies during a rescue operation that lasted nearly seven hours, said Rajesh Dikshit. Two of the 19 injured people died in hospital, Mr. Dikshit told. No foreigners were among the victims, he said. The smashed coach was reserved for women and physically handicapped people, although some additional people may have been among the victims, district Magistrate Suresh Chandra Sharma said. The two trains were heading to New Delhi from southern India. One of the trains, the Mewar Express, was stopped at a red signal when the other train rammed into it from behind, Mr. Sharma told. We felt a massive jolt, said Ramesh Charan, a passenger aboard the Mewar Express. Some people sleeping on upper berths fell to the coach floor by the impact of the collision. Villagers and army soldiers stationed nearby helped police and rail officials in rescuing injured people. Authorities are still trying to determine why the accident happened, rail official Sri Prakash said. Accidents are common on India's sprawling rail network, which is one of the world's largest, with most accidents blamed on poor maintenance.

Galleon under Sebi watch

The Securities and Exchange Board of India Sebi said it is closely watching investments made by New York-based hedge fund Galleon, whose Sri Lankan founder Raj Rajaratnam was arrested for alleged insider trading. Top Sebi sources said there was no concrete evidence so far of any insider trading in the Indian market by the hedge fund, but the regulator would not leave anything to chance.

Tata Motors buys out Hispano

Tata Motors said it acquired 79% stake in Spain-based Hispano Carrocera SA, a bus and coach manufacturing company. The Indian vehicles major already holds 21% stake in the Spanish firm, which it bought in 2005 for around Rs 70 crore (including equity, debt and technology licensing). Tata Motors had an option to acquire 100% holding in the Spanish company. In response to a query from FE, a company spokesperson said, The acqusition of the 79% stake in Hispano Carrocera has been internally funded. It is a minuscule amount. Hispano has been converted into a wholly owned subsidiary to close integration with the company's bus market strategy in all relevant markets.

TechM, Aegis, Conflux bag Rs 750-crore Etisalat deal

Etisalat DB Telecom, a new entrant in the Indian telecom space yet to launch services, has awarded an end-to-end outsourcing contract to three BPO service providers Tech Mahindra, Aegis and Conflux, the company said. The deal, spanning over five years, is valued at over Rs 750 crore. Etisalat is a JV between the UAE's Etisalat Group and India's Dynamix Balwas Group with Etisalat holding 45% in the JV.

Family pact not binding on the company, RIL tells SC

The epic legal battle between Reliance Industries (RIL) and Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL), owned by estranged brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani entered its final phase with the counsel for RIL commencing his arguments.

Ambanis are fighting like countries at war: SC

The long-awaited hearing on the gas supply and pricing dispute between the Ambani brothers, Mukesh and Anil, in the Supreme Court started with the bench comparing the tussle to a fight between two countries. During the hearing between the Mukesh-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and the Anil-owned Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL) that will resume, chief justice KG Balakrishnan who is part of the three-member bench along with justices RV Raveendran and P Sathasivam said the dispute was not a fight between shareholders. Another judge sought to draw a parallel with the rulers of two rival countries.

Correction ahead? Small investors seem to believe so

Retail shareholding fell in three out of four companies in the three months shows, indicating that small investors are cashing out in anticipation of a correction in stock prices. The benchmark Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has more than doubled in the past six months, buoyed by rising inflows from foreign funds and improving corporate performance.

EAC is bullish on IIP

The Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council expects industrial output to grow in double digits through the remainder of 2009-10, implied by its projection of an 8.5% growth in the index of industrial production (IIP) for the year. The EAC, chaired by C Rangarajan, will release its economic outlook for 2009-10. The much-awaited outlook reviews the country's macroeconomic scenario and provides projections for various key economic indicators for the year. It comes just a few days ahead of RBI's mid-term review of monetary policy.

Raja: spectrum shortage could delay 3G auction

Communications & IT minister A Raja expressed doubts whether the 3G spectrum auction, which is supposed to be held in 90 days, can be conducted at all this fiscal because of a shortage of frequencies. His comments come nearly two months after the empowered group of ministers cleared the reserve prices for the auction. Raja blamed the defence ministry and sought finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's mediation in the release of spectrum by the defence forces. Because of the stand taken by the defence ministry there has been slippage in the original schedule of the auction. If this issue is not resolved quickly, I apprehend that the revenues anticipated from the 3G auction may not be forthcoming this year Raja wrote to Mukherjee.

Banking sector to be left out of Press Note ambit

The norms, released as a measure to liberalise foreign direct investment FDI flows into India, had resulted in seven Indian banks being labelled as foreign-owned and India- controlled entities, which severely restricted their existing downstream investments in sectors like insurance. The government has now decided to make an exception for the banking sector, a senior government official familiar with the development told FE. This means banks will not be governed by the new rules on FDI. The department of industrial policy and promotion DIPP, the nodal agency for FDI policy, is soon expected to clarify the policy relaxation for banks. After that, downstream investments of ICICI Bank and HDFC in their respective insurance companies will not be counted as FDI.

Coke wins case against Bisleri for Maaza brand name

The Delhi High Court has asked the Ramesh Chauhan-led Bisleri International to stop selling the mango flavoured soft-drink under the trade name Maaza in India, giving Coca-Cola a victory in a trademark case. The matter concerning the trademark rights to Maaza has been fought for over a year now with the Delhi High Court allowing the interim injunction in the matter, passed in 2008, to become absolute in favour of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola India records 37% growth in unit case volumes

Continuing its strong overall unit case volume growth performance for the 13th consecutive quarter, beverage major Coca-Cola India recorded a rise of 37 per cent for the third quarter. The company had recorded an 18 per cent unit case volume growth in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. India gained volume and value share across most categories, including sparkling, still and juice & juice drinks. The company attributed this growth to an increase in investment in the distribution and expansion of coolers and soft drink equipment, which it claims have gone up not just in the metros but also in Tier-II and Tier-III cities as well.

Satyam Investigation | Icai report fails to provide new angle

A report prepared by India's apex accounting body that is investigating the role of the auditors in the fraud at Satyam Computer Services Ltd doesn't shed any new light on the subject and, apart from repeating charges made by the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's federal investigative agency, suggests generic measures to improve the audit process in companies. The report by a committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, or Icai, and headed by the institute's president Uttam Prakash Agarwal was presented to the ministry of corporate affairs MCA, but its contents haven't been publicized. The institute doesn't have the required information to arrive at a conclusion.

Satyam gets a warning from NYSE

Mahindra Satyam finds itself on the late filing list of the US capital market regulator as it has failed to furnish its accounts within the stipulated time limit. The regulator has asked the company to complete the filing within a stipulated time, but has also said that it could be delisted if circumstances warrant. The delisting could have an impact on Satyam's stand in the US court in the class action law suit against it, according to market experts. In case the stock is delisted, petitioners in class action suits could have a stronger case. The new management may find it hard to take the stand that over a period of time the losses incurred by investors will be recovered. So, the de-listing might take place in NYSE but its impact is going to be felt on Indian shores too.

Tutors partying, expecting a boom

If Union HRD ministry aims to restrict the intervention of coaching institutes by hiking the qualifying marks in +2 exams for IITJEE, they will be shocked to learn that coaching institutes are partying, instead. For ensuring 80% marks in XII, students will come to us Anil Parmar, who runs one such institute, said pointing out only around 60% of the CBSE students score 80% and above in XII exams.

Arrested Nasa spy worked on Chandrayaan project

A senior American space scientist arrested by the FBI in the US for allegedly spying for Israel was one of the main investigators of a Nasa scientific instrument Mini-Sar that flew aboard India's lunar craft Chandrayaan-1. The scientist had visited Bangalore twice and met up with Isro scientists. The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday filed a criminal complaint against Nasa scientist Steward David Nozette, 52, for attempted espionage. He is believed to be working for Israeli intelligence.

Intelligence reports warn of imminent attacks: PM

Noting that both state and non-state actors are engaged in the business of terrorism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said regular Intelligence reports had warned of imminent attacks in the country and security forces needed to be prepared to meet any challenge. Addressing the top commanders of three Services here, he also said that the situation in India's immediate neighbourhood had worsened, apparently referring to the developments in Pakistan which he did not spell out.

In Google China map, Arunachal is in China

While China continues to claim Arunachal Pradesh as its own, technology giant Google seems to have decided to take a line to please both Beijing and New Delhi. On the Google Maps site localised for users in China (, Arunachal Pradesh appears as part of China. On the site for users in India (http://, Arunachal appears in the way India sees it as an integral part of India. And for users in other parts of the world, the site shows Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed region, like Kashmir.

China hopes for extensive talks with India, plays down tensions

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will hold an extensive exchange of views with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna when they meet in Bangalore next week, a Chinese official said, even as Beijing sought to play down the recent tensions with New Delhi. In the next seven days, India and China will have two opportunities to address the strains in their relationship over the long-running border dispute. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Bangkok, though both sides are yet to confirm a meeting.

India tops world with over 50 mn diabetes: Report

India leads the world in the number of people suffering from diabetes and by 2030, nearly 9 per cent of the country's population is likely to be affected from the disease, the International Diabetic Federation IDF has warned. About 50.8 million people are now suffering from the looming epidemic of diabetes, followed by China with 43.2 million, World Diabetes Congress of IDF opened in the Canadian city of Montreal said.


Edited by jagdu - 21 October 2009 at 2:08pm
jagdu IF-Dazzler

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Posted: 25 October 2009 at 10:36am | IP Logged
In the brewing discord between two giant, ambitious nations, even a remote meadow in the Himalayas is worth fighting over.

Some two-dozen Chinese soldiers converged earlier this year on a family of nomads who wouldn't budge from a winter grazing ground that locals say Indian herders had used for generations. China claims the pasture is part of Tibet, not northern India. The soldiers tore up the family's tent and tried to push them back toward the Indian border town of Demchok, Indian authorities say.

Increasing Friction

Comparing China and India's most crucial statistics.

Chering Dorjay, the chairman of India's Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, says he arrived on the scene with a new tent and Indian intelligence officers and urged the herders to stay put. The Chinese, it seems, are gradually taking our territory, he says. We will feel very insecure unless India strengthens its defenses. Dueling territorial claims along this heavily militarized mountain border, coupled with economic tensions between the two nations, are kindling a 21st-century rivalry. China and India cooperate occasionally. But in recent years, they have competed vigorously over trade, energy investments, even a race to land a man on the moon. Some Indians want their nation to move closer to the U.S. as a hedge against a rising China a strategic shift that's likely to complicate ties among all three.C hina is trying to become No. 1, says Brajesh Mishra, a former national-security adviser for India. This is the seed of conflict between China, India and the U.S.

Walk the Line

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A sign in the village of Spangmik in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir marks the last stop for tourists.

the prime ministers of India and China met at a summit of Asian leaders in Thailand, following several weeks in which their nations traded barbs over trade and disputed territory. In their meeting, China's Wen Jiabao and Manmohan Singh agreed to try to narrow differences over a shared border, with the goal of striking an acceptable agreement on unsettled territory. India's Prime Minister Singh also noted the need to improve understanding and trust between the two countries, and urged that their differences not divide them, following the meeting. Next month, after a planned visit to China, President Barack Obama will host a U.S. visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a meeting meant to highlight what the White House says is a growing strategic partnership. Commercial and military ties between the two countries have been getting stronger. Last year, the U.S. loosened restrictions to allow India to buy sensitive technology and nuclear equipment for civilian use. Soldiers from both countries are participating this month in a joint defense exercise. Indian defense analysts say India needs closer U.S. ties to hedge against potential hostilities with China. If China's rise is peaceful, and it integrates into the global economy, everything should be fine, says retired Indian Brig. Gen. Gurmeet Kanwal, director of the Center for Land Warfare Studies, an army think tank. Should China implode, it's better to have a friend like the U.S. In addition to the defense concerns, trade friction is growing between India and China. India leads all members of the World Trade Organization in antidumping cases against China. India has banned imports of Chinese toys, milk and chocolate, citing safety concerns, and has launched investigations into export surges of Chinese truck tires and chemicals, among other products. On Oct. 15, Indian heavy-industries minister Vilasrao Deshmukh asked the finance ministry to impose taxes on imports of inexpensive Chinese power equipment. We don't want India to be turned into a dumping ground, he told. At the moment, the biggest threat to India-China relations may be their competing claims for big swaths of territory along their border. In recent years, China has settled border disputes with a host of nations, including Russia, as part of what it calls its good neighbor policy.But China and India have made little progress, despite 13 rounds of meetings since 2003. China says the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh is historically part of southern Tibet. India wants China to hand back territory it calls Aksai Chin, desolate high-altitude salt flats that residents of Ladakh claim as part of its ancient Buddhist kingdom. India's discovery of a Chinese-built road in the region helped spark a border war in 1962. Earlier this month, China objected to a visit by Indian Prime Minister Singh to Arunachal Pradesh to campaign for local elections, saying it was disputed territory. We request India to pay great attention to China's solemn concerns, and not stir up incidents in the areas of dispute,  Zhaoxu told. India's foreign minister countered that Arunachal Pradesh is Indian territory, and demanded that China stop investing in infrastructure-related projects in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan claim the whole of Kashmir. The 1962 border war, which India lost, complicated the boundary between the two countries. These days, Chinese and Indian forces in some border areas have agreed to go out on different days to patrol contested territory. We want to avoid an eyeball-to-eyeball conflict, says Gopal Pillai, India's secretary for the home ministry, which oversees the border police. India and China are intent on turning fast economic growth into national strength. When their interests have converged, they have proven a powerful combination.  they announced plans to cooperate at December's climate-change talks in Copenhagen, a pact likely to see both fighting carbon-emission caps proposed by industrialized nations. During global-trade talks, they both resisted Western pressure to open farm markets. China's economic and military growth is not a threat to India. And India's shouldn't be a threat to China, says Cheng Ruisheng, a former Chinese ambassador to India. We should be an opportunity to one another. But many Chinese resent any comparison with India, still a largely poor agrarian nation with only about one-third of China's per-capita income. And they're generally wary of India's warming ties with the U.S. Indians, for their part, bristle over the flood of Chinese imports and China's increasingly cozy ties with India's neighbors, including Nepal, Sri Lanka and arch-rival Pakistan. In a speech last November, Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, then its foreign minister, identified an expansionist China as one of India's top challenges. Today's China seeks to further her interests more aggressively than in the past, he told the National Defense College in New Delhi.

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The Indian government has closely scrutinized proposals by Chinese companies to invest in India. It recently demanded that thousands of Chinese citizens in India convert short-term business visas into employment visas a move that effectively boots unskilled Chinese workers from the country. The Chinese government has objected to a proposed Asian Development Bank program that India hoped would help fund a water project in the disputed territory of Arunachal Pradesh. This year, the Chinese embassy began issuing visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir in a manner that Indian officials say leaves China with a way to later claim that it isn't recognizing the visa recipients as Indian citizens. the Chinese embassy in New Delhi says every country has the right to set its own visa policies. U.S. defense contractors could benefit from India's desire to modernize its military. While the U.S. has banned weapons sales to China, it has ramped up such sales to India. defense contractors competing to supply India's air force a new fleet of jet fighters a deal that could be valued at $10.4 billion. Contested territory in northern India lies in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The region abutting China, known as Ladakh, consists largely of rocky mountain terrain with isolated green pastures grazed by yaks, goats and horses. Many of the herders and traders living on both sides of the blurred border share the same Tibetan heritage and Buddhist faith. The main town on the Indian side, Leh, was an ancient caravan stop. Today, the area crawls with Indian soldiers. Indian border police tightly regulate visitors traveling east toward China.

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The Indian army built this road in Ladakh, near the China border, where there have been disputes over territory. The Indian army has accelerated a road-building program in the region. The roads, which run beside Indian army camps and over a pass above 17,000 feet, are dotted with offbeat signs: I'm curvaceous, be slow, warns one. I like you darling, but not so fast, says another. India intends to use the new mountain roads in part to move military supplies. In September, an Indian cargo plane landed at a new high-altitude airstrip near the border. Indian villagers near the border have been caught in the middle of the conflict. When villagers were constructing an irrigation canal a few years ago, Chinese soldiers tried to wave them off, says Rigzin Spalbar, chairman at the time of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. The villagers hurled abuse at the soldiers, but were angry at Indian soldiers for doing nothing, he says. The Chinese are pestering us to test India's reaction, he says. Indian residents of the area claim Chinese soldiers have painted Chinese characters on rocks in territory that India claims as its own. The residents say the border has never been as tightly patrolled as it is now. Konchok Gurmet, 70 years old, lives in Spangmik, a village ringed with Tibetan prayer flags on Panggong Lake, beside the border with China. He says that until a few years ago he was able to smuggle horses and wool across the border in exchange for Chinese crockery, clothes and thermos bottles.

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These days, locals say, border forces on both sides turn smugglers back. After violent protests in Tibet last year, China has been sensitive about who crosses over. Indian police worry that herders and smugglers may be offering the Chinese information on military positions and infrastructure projects, locals say. According to Mr. Pillai, the Indian home secretary, infrastructure development on both sides of the border has heightened interest in establishing an exact line. The confrontation between the Indian goatherds and Chinese soldiers, which occurred in January, began after the herders crossed a river to reach a pasture they'd used for generations, Mr. Pillai says. The Chinese viewed the river as the border line. Indian security forces haven't pressed the claim, he says, because the pasture now is encircled by Chinese sentry posts. We'd find it difficult tactically to hold that land, he says. China's ministry of defense declined to comment on the incident, and the Chinese foreign ministry has denied any incursions into Indian territory. China's border patrol is always conducted in strict accordance with rules. pillai says more troops are moving to the border with China, which he describes as a gradual buildup of defensive positions. Some residents of Arunachal Pradesh the Indian state that China claims  say it's about time.

India needs to wake up. China is going to flex its muscles,says Kiren Rijiju, a former member of parliament from Arunachal Pradesh. Being one of its largest neighbors, we are a soft target.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is trying to raise interest in its extensive collection of ancient Indian paintings by showing how they connect to modern day Indian comics in a new exhibit starting Saturday. The museum, known as Lacma, is billing Heroes and Villains: The Battle for Good in India's Comics as the first major museum exhibit of Indian comics. The exhibit includes 18 paintings from its permanent collection. Some items dating back to the 16th century, along with current comic books and pages by Indian cartoonists.


Liquid Comics

In a page from Ramayan 3392 A.D., Ram vanquishes Subaho.

While the comic books on display don't have much in common visually with the ancient paintings, they borrow storylines and characters from the traditional paintings. The 21st-century comics take divine mythologies and turn them into secular superheroes,says Julie Romain, the show's curator. Like American characters, the Indian heroes have exaggerated muscles and elaborate armor, and sexy heroines in body-hugging clothes. The earliest comics in the Lacma show are from the 1960s and were meant to spread traditional, religious stories. Indian titles such as Tales of the Mother Goddess, created to help children learn the tales of sacred Hindu texts, feature the multiarmed goddess Devi. Among the start-up comics publishers in India, a group of entrepreneurs including Richard Branson and the self-help author Deepak Chopra founded Virgin Comics in 2005. The company, renamed Liquid Comics in 2008, is currently run by Sharad Devarajan and Mr. Chopra's son Gotham with a studio in Bangalore and headquarters in New York and Los Angeles. At Lacma are books from the Liquid series Devi. Liquid teamed up with Shekhar Kapur, director of the 1998 film Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett, to tell the story of Tara Mehta, a social worker who lives in the fictional city of Sitapura, and is the modern incarnation of Hindu goddess Devi. She must fight a billionaire mogul who is plotting to take over the world. Another comic-book series, Ramayan 3392 A.D., was created by Deepak Chopra and Mr. Kapur, and tells the story of prince Ram who battles alongside his brothers to defeat the evil demon Ravan. Liquid CEO Mr. Devarajan says he aims to bring Indian stories to a global audience much like Pokemon brought Japanese animation worldwide. He says the company has signed deals to make a videogame of Ramayan and a film. Most people don't see it and think it's an Indian tale. They think it's a universal tale, he says.

Also at Lacma: several recent adaptations of American comics. In the early 2000s, an Indian version of Spider-Man was released, featuring the young hero Pavitr Prabhakar sounds a bit like Peter Parker. On the cover, he wears traditional pointy Indian slippers and loose-fitting Salwar pants, and flies over the Taj Mahal.

Edited by jagdu - 25 October 2009 at 2:02pm
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Posted: 02 November 2009 at 9:21pm | IP Logged
 Meat lovers in New Delhi are having a tough time getting the essential ingredient for their favorite mutton biryani and seekh kebabs: The city's meat supplies are drying up, as butchers and meat traders continued their strike for the 12th consecutive day over the proposed relocation of an abattoir.

Amid Strike, Delhi Seeks Alternatives


The sealed entrance to a centuries-old abbatoir in the heart of India's capital. The strike is to protest an order by the nation's Supreme Court last month demanding closure of all butchering and animal-trading activities in the centuries-old abattoir in the heart of the city, and the shifting of operations to a newly built high-technology center in eastern Delhi. The meat workers say shifting operations to the new slaughterhouse in east Delhi would mean uprooting their livelihoods. There are currently 15,000 workers employed in the old abattoir, while the new facility requires only 150. What kind of socialism is the government trying to portray by throwing people out of their jobs? said Mohammad Aqil Qureshi, president of the New Delhi Meat Traders Association. The court passed its order following a five-year legal battle between meat traders and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, a local authority. Authorities deemed the slaughterhouse unhygienic, and said it had limited space for slaughtering, so animals were killed on the ground, allowing blood to flow into the streets. Traders went on strike in protest, making mutton unavailable in the capital and sending the prices of chicken and fish up almost 40% due to a sudden surge in demand. After the price rise in vegetables, it is meat that has become unaffordable, says 28-year-old Kamleshwari. She added that if nonvegetarians don't get meat, they will buy more vegetables, pushing prices even higher. Some traders have been managing by getting meat at higher prices from neighboring states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. 10% of meat shops are open in Delhi. All slaughter activities have been suspended in the capital, says Mohammad Jameel, owner of Zia Meat Shop in north Delhi. Some 20,000 meat traders and exporters have threatened to take the strike nationwide if the authorities don't roll back their decision and reopen the old slaughter house. We will go ahead with the strike even if the government cancels our operating licenses, said Mr. Qureshi. He said his association is urging chicken and fish traders to join the protest.
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Posted: 04 November 2009 at 11:00pm | IP Logged

FMCG, pharma seen safe as market turns weak

Investors have once again turned to the safety of defensive sectors like FMCG and pharma, as market sentiment has become weak. The downtrend Why realty is good in global markets amid tightening liquidity conditions, and back home, just about passable quarterly earnings from key companies. Investors have now shifted focus to relatively less volatile sectors while booking profits in high-beta sectors like realty and construction, the biggest outperformers in the recent bull run.

TCS, Wipro eye $400 mn Target outsourcing deal

India's top tech firms Tata Consultancy Services TCS, Wipro and several others are pursuing Target's captive technology centre for a potential acquisition, in what could be a transaction bundled with a long-term outsourcing contract worth $300-400 million. America's second-biggest discount retailer Target has around 1,500 staff employed at its Bangalore centre, currently doing software development and maintenance work. We have been in discussions with them for the past few months and the dialogue is still open,here is no conclusion yet about how this transaction can be structured, and it's very early days. Both TCS and Wipro count Target as one of their top retail customers.

Govt asks listed PSUs to expand equity bases

Profitable listed public sector undertakings (PSUs), in need of funds to meet their capital expenditure, will be encouraged to approach the stock market with follow-on public offerings. The government will consider the sale of a part of its shareholding in such PSUs when they expand their equity bases by issuing fresh shares. This has been made clear in an approach paper on disinvestment, prepared by the finance ministry. The paper also notes that the government policy will now focus on listing of profitable PSUs through offer for sale of equity or issue of fresh shares.

L&T bags Rs 68.97 billion from Mahagenco

Larsen & Toubro Ltd has bagged a Rs 68.97 billion contract from Maharashtra State Power Generation Co Ltd  for three 660 Mw super-critical Boiler Turbine Generator units. The project is one of the largest engineering, procurement and construction EPC orders for thermal power stations in the country. The project, for the 1,980 Mw thermal power plant at Koradi near Nagpur, was won after stiff competition from domestic and international power majors, said L&T.

All hopes on rabi after drought pulls kharif crop down by 18%

The impact of drought on agricultural output this kharif season is expected to weigh down the shoots of economic recovery with the first advance estimate projecting an 18 per cent dip in the kharif crop this year as compared to last year with cotton being the sole  but thin  silver lining. Agriculture Ministry data today estimated a shortfall this year of about 21 million tonnes -17.90% in the kharif crop, which includes rice, coarse cereals and pulses.

6-man Puducherry cabinet spends Rs 36L on snacks

It's a small cabinet but with a healthy appetite and a penchant for entertaining guests quite liberally. A query under RTI has revealed that Puducherry chief minister V Vaithilingam and his five colleagues in the cabinet have spent more than Rs 36 lakh on tea, snacks and beverages while hosting visitors in their respective offices in the assembly in the eight months between September 2008 and April 2009.

Two Chicago men charged with scheming to launch a terrorist attack on a Danish newspaper also discussed an attack on a military college in India, federal prosecutors said. Prosecutors made the allegation in court papers as U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan prepared for a hearing to consider release of one of the men, Tahawwura Rana, on bond. Prosecutors said Mr. Rana discussed with the other man charged in the case, David Headley, the possibility of an attack on the National Defense College of India. The court papers did not provide more information on the alleged discussion and no other details were immediately available. The document also said that Mr. Rana, who operates a Chicago immigration service, discussed the possibility of slipping people into the U.S. illegally with an unnamed individual belonging to a Pakistan-based terrorist organization. Charges that the two men plotted to attack Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten were unsealed last week by federal prosecutors. The newspaper sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world in 2005 by publishing 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims considered the cartoons extremely disrespectful. Prosecutors have said Mr. Headley, whose former name was Daood Gilani, envisioned a plan to murder a cartoonist and the newspaper's former cultural editor. Defense attorney Patrick Blegen has said that Mr. Rana-a Canadian national who was born in Pakistan and also owns a grocery store on Chicago's north side was merely an innocent dupe of Mr. Headley or did not take Mr. Headley's plans seriously. Prosecutors said the conversations about potential targets showed that Mr. Headley was serious.

Mr. Headley's attorney has said he has no comment on the case.

Edited by jagdu - 04 November 2009 at 11:08pm
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Posted: 11 November 2009 at 9:03am | IP Logged
Forecasters issued a warning as cyclone Phyan approached India's western coast with wind speed of about 45 miles per hour.
[indiacyclone] hspace0 People hold umbrellas at a sea front off the coast of the Arabian Sea in Mumbai A depression in the Arabian Sea has intensified into a cyclonic storm, with heavy rains and gusting winds forecast for Mumbai and other parts of India's west coast, weather officials said.
The storm was likely to move north-northeastwards and cross south Gujarat and the north Maharashtra coast, the meteorological department said. Although the speed of cyclone Phyan was less than a similar storm that hit the Indian state of West Bengal in May, authorities still feared damage to coastal settlements, power and communication lines. The cyclone is 350 kilometers south-west of Mumbai and the danger signal has been set in motion, said R.V. Sharma, at the meteorological office based in Mumbai. In Mumbai, municipal authorities closed schools and offices three hours early Wednesday. Though train services remained unaffected so far, a Mumbai airport official said incoming and outbound flights were delayed. India's commercial center, Mr. Sharma said, would experience heavy to very heavy rainfall over the next two days. The meteorological department sent SMSes of Cyclone Warning: Avoid Travel to the residents of Mumbai. With rains lashing the city, state authorities have put all emergency services and disaster management cells on high alert to tackle any eventuality. Nine rescue teams have been moved to the low-lying areas. People have been asked to vacate the areas. The local authorities are handling the situation well, said 26-year-old Sabrina Bowen, a local resident in Mumbai. Emergency buses and trains, pressed into service by the state government, are helping the people reach their homes. In 2005, devastating floods killed several people in Mumbai. The weather department also advised fishermen not to venture out into the sea. We have been asked by the fisheries department not to go into the sea for the next 48 hours, said Manish Lodhari, boat-owner in Porbandar on the west coast facing the Arabian Sea.
Joyous Buddhist pilgrims welcomed the Dalai Lama back to the Himalayan town he first set foot in five decades ago while fleeing Chinese rule in his native Tibet, a rare trip close to his homeland that has angered Beijing.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama arrives at the Tawang monastery, in Tawang, in the northeastern Arunachal Pradesh state, India.The Dalai LamaThe Dalai Lama's arrival for a five-day trip highlighted a lingering border dispute between India and China, exposed Beijing's ongoing sensitivities over Tibet and raised questions over who would succeed him as the region's spiritual leader.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said last week that the trip once again exposes the nature of the Dalai Lama as anti-China. The Dalai Lama, however, insisted the accusation was baseless and that he was only seeking to promote religious values, peace and harmony. My visit here is nonpolitical he said soon after his arrival.

In Tawang, the streets were lined with prayer flags and banners welcoming the Dalai Lama and thousands braved the cold temperatures and biting wind to attend his five-day visit of prayer meetings and lectures on Buddhism. It made us very happy to catch a glimpse of him. Nobody is more important to us than him. The Dalai Lama is our god, said Ms. Karmayacha, who uses one name and traveled with her family from a village 20 miles (32 kilometers) away. Monks clanged cymbals and sounded traditional Tibetan horns to greet the Dalai Lama as he arrived at the Tawang monastery, filled with fresh orange, white and red flowers, from a nearby helipad. The Dalai Lama smiled and chatted with the gathered crowds. One monk shaded him with a giant yellow silk umbrella, while scores of others bowed before him as he walked into a hall to lead a prayer session. The spiritual leader first came to Tawang, which has close religious and political ties to Tibet, in 1959, when he fled communist rule. He has since made five visits to the town, the last in 2003. China accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking Tibetan independence and is especially sensitive to protests against its control over the Himalayan region following deadly anti-government riots there last year. It regularly protests the movements of the Dalai Lama, but it is particularly sensitive to this trip, which highlights two issues of special concern to Beijing, Tibetan independence and its disputed border with India. Tawang is home to the Monpa tribe, who have strong ties to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The sixth Dalai Lama came from the region in the 17th century and China fears that if the next one is found here as well, he will be beyond Beijing's grip. The visit also highlights worsening tensions between India and China, which have been embroiled in a border dispute over this northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh since 1962. The two Asian neighbors are vying for economic and political power in the region.

Edited by jagdu - 11 November 2009 at 9:13am
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Posted: 16 November 2009 at 3:25pm | IP Logged
Rahul Dravid and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit centuries as India came back hard on Sri Lanka in the first cricket test to rack up 385-6.
[Rahul Dravid] India's Rahul Dravid gestures after scoring a century during first day of the first cricket test match between India and Sri Lanka, in Ahmedabad

Dravid batted nearly the entire first day to finish at unbeaten 177, while Dhoni made a splendid 110 before he was out three overs before stumps. The elegant right-handed Dravid, also known as Wall for his temperament, completed 11,000 runs in test matches and hit 26 boundaries and a straight six in yet another 251-ball knock. It was a remarkable turnaround by Dravid and Dhoni after paceman Chanaka Welegedara's triple strike had left the home team reeling at 32-4 inside the first hour. Dravid featured in two productive partnerships which gave India an early initiative in the three-test series. He added 224 runs for the sixth wicket with Dhoni before Dhamika Prasad had the India skipper caught behind just before close.  Dhoni hit 10 boundaries and a six in his first test century at home and faced 159 deliveries. Dravid first resurrected the innings with a 125-run stand with Yuvraj Singh (68), and then featured in a double-century stand with his captain. Earlier, Welegedara caused major concerns for the hosts with his opening burst of three wickets, including Sachin Tendulkar for four, after Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat. The 28-year-old swing bowler clean bowled Gautam Gambhir with the total at 14 and then had two wickets in the sixth over. He had Virender Sehwag (16) leg before wicket with a ball that pitched on middle stump and then bowled Tendulkar (4) between bat and pad. Tendulkar, celebrating his 20th anniversary in test cricket, lasted only three deliveries. Prasad had V.V. S. Laxman bowled without scoring in the seventh over to have India reeling at 32 for four. That brought Yuvraj and Dravid together and both batsmen attacked the Sri Lankan bowlers. The gamble paid off as they struck some delightful boundaries on both sides of the wicket in a powerful partnership and kept the scoring rate well over four runs an over. Muttiah Muralitharan finally broke the threatening stand when he lured Yuvraj with a slow flighted delivery and offered a tame catch to Tillakaratne Dilshan in the covers. Yuvraj hit 13 boundaries in his 93-ball innings before his concentration lapse. Dravid, ignored for the one-day series against Australia, pumped his fist in the air when he completed his 27th test century with a single off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath soon after tea. Dhoni raised his hundred when he came down the wicket to Herath's flighted delivery and drove past the fielder at covers for his ninth boundary of the innings. Welegedara, playing only his second test match and first in almost two years, was the pick of Sri Lankan bowlers with 3-75. India left out paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and will rely on Zaheer Khan to lead the attack on his comeback from injury. Sri Lanka left spinner Ajantha Mendis out of its starting XI.

India plans to announce increased subsidies for solar-power generation, as the country looks to scale up production of renewable energy and show it is committed to mitigating climate change.

A New Delhi power plant; only a fraction of India's power comes from solar energy.Power Plant

India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is expected to release details of the latest solar-power policy in the next several weeks. Dr. B. Bhargava, a director in the agency, said the plans will increase significantly the number of solar projects that can receive government support. The hope, Mr. Bhargava said, is that the new policy will encourage manufacturers of solar panels such as Moser Baer India Ltd. and Tata BP Solar India Ltd. to ramp up production, thereby reducing per-unit costs and driving down the high price of solar power. It is currently about five times more expensive to generate solar power than oil-based power. If the costs aren't reduced, this subsidy policy can't be sustained on a long-term basis, Mr. Bhargava said. India's revision of its solar policies comes ahead of a global climate-change conference at Copenhagen in December. The differences between developed and developing countries are part of the reason world leaders have lowered expectations for what's possible in Copenhagen, saying the purpose will be to set a political roadmap for further negotiations to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Developing countries such as India are under pressure to show greater commitments to controlling greenhouse-gas emissions. Climate change will be among the issues on the agenda when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits the White House next week. India currently generates a tiny fraction of its power from solar energy. Coal accounts for more than half of the country's power capacity, and wind makes the biggest contribution among renewable sources, which together provide about 7.5% of India's energy.

Vendors used solar powered lights at an open air evening market in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad in September.india solar power

Solar power is promising, because sunlight is abundant everywhere, unlike wind and hydro power, which are better for only some regions. The government's new policy is aimed at increasing solar-power generation to 20,000 megawatts by 2020 from three megawatts. The potential is infinite with solar, Mr. Bhargava said. India's existing policy supports a modest amount of solar-power capacity 50 megawatts with subsidies of up to 25 cents per kilowatt hour. Mr. Bhargava said that program is already fully subscribed and will be expanded substantially through the new policy, though he declined to offer specifics. He said the new guidelines also will streamline the process for solar-power developers to collect subsidies and payments from state utilities. The major challenge for scaling up solar power has been providing the start-up capital to create demand. Many state electricity boards which purchase power from generating companies and sell it to consumers are in shaky financial positions. But Mr. Bhargava said the central government will take on most of the costs of the solar program in the early going. Initially, we'll have no choice but to do that for a few years, he said. Beyond expanding solar power, India has pledged in a national action plan on climate change to pursue a range of other measures, from increased fuel-efficiency in automobiles to more-efficient consumer appliances. The U.S. and other developed countries have sought to persuade India to accept mandatory curbs on greenhouse-gas emissions. Developing countries can't say this isn't my problem because most of the increase in carbon emissions in the future will be from developing countries, said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who was in India last week to meet with government officials. But India has resisted, arguing that its per-capita emissions are still well below those of developed countries. Indian officials and corporate executives say they don't want to put the brakes on economic growth and make it harder to provide electricity to 400 millions Indians who aren't on the national grid. Mr. Chu said India and the U.S. are exploring ways to combine efforts on basic research into new green technologies. He said India could be severely affected by receding glaciers and changing weather patterns if climate change isn't addressed urgently in coming years. He added that India will have no choice but to look beyond coal to alternative-energy sources as its population swells. India already faces a shortfall of power with capacity about 12% below demand during peak hours and demand is expected to increase five-fold by 2030, according to a recent McKinsey & Co. report.

A speeding train derailed in western India early Saturday, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 80. Fifteen cars of the New Delhi-bound train flew off the tracks and rolled onto their sides when the driver suddenly applied the brakes because of poor visibility in the region, said Vipin Kumar Pande, superintendent of police. A broken rail track punctured one car and killed some of the passengers, Pande told. Rescuers used machinery to cut open some of the cars to free trapped passengers, he said. Nineteen people were hospitalized with injuries, three of them in serious condition, Pande said, and more than 60 people with minor injuries had left for their homes after treatment. The accident occurred near Banshkov, a village nearly 25 miles south of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan state. Accidents are common on India's sprawling rail network, one of the world's largest, with most blamed on poor maintenance. Last month, a passenger train crashed into another train's rear carriage in northern India, killing 22 people and injuring 16 near Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal.

Edited by jagdu - 16 November 2009 at 4:07pm

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