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MUMBAI: Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has said that his son Abhishek was near Connaught Place for a function minutes before the bomb blast that rocked the area and other places in New Delhi on Saturday.

"Abhishek was on his way to Connaught Palace for a function he had to attend. Minutes away from there, the traffic became a snarl and he knew he would not make it in time so he asked to turn back. And the blast happened just then. Shattered and shocked, he called to say he was alright," Bachchan wrote on his blog.

He said that he was in pain and anguish thinking about the innocent unaware victims who bore the brunt of the blasts. "We live in difficult times. What kind of an environment are we leaving behind for our next generation. Or do we not concern ourselves with that. We need peace and harmony.

Such wonderful words easy to type on a computer. So difficult to achieve," he said. The actor wondered if producers of Delhi 6 would continue with the shooting in wake of the blasts. "Abhishek has to shoot for the last few shots of the film. He has left the decision to the producers. Cancelling would be interpreted as succumbing to the threat," he said.

 

An Indian-American researcher is working with a team of Utah University engineers to design cheaper, lighter and better solar cells. Dinesh Rakhwal, doctoral student in mechanical engineering, said: "We're coming up with a more efficient way of making germanium wafers for solar cells - to reduce the cost and weight of these solar cells and make them defect-free.

"Germanium serves as the bottom layer of the most efficient existing type of solar cell, but is used primarily on NASA, military and commercial satellites because of the high expense - raw germanium costs about $1,360 per kg. The improved 'wafer-slicing' method will help make high-efficiency solar cells for use even on roof tops, where cost now is a factor, said Eberhard Bamberg, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.Brass-coated, steel-wire saws now are used to slice round wafers of germanium from cylindrical single-crystal ingots. But the brittle chemical element cracks easily, requiring broken pieces to be recycled.

The width of the saws means a significant amount of germanium is lost during the cutting process.

The sawing method was developed for silicon wafers, which are roughly 100 times stronger.The new method for slicing solar cell wafers - known as wire electrical discharge machining (WEDM) - wastes less germanium and produces more wafers by cutting even thinner slices with less waste and cracking. The method uses an extremely thin molybdenum wire with an electrical current running through it.

It has been used previously for machining metals during tool-making.The findings of Bamberg and Rakwal will appear in the October edition of the Journal of Materials Processing Technology

 

Intel debuts 6-core processor

Posted In: . By Shamsheer Ali

SAN FRANCISCO: Intel Corp, seeking to increase the speed of server computers for hosting websites and storing files, said customers will begin selling machines with six processors built into one piece of silicon. Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co, International Business Machines Corp and Sun Microsystems Inc will begin selling computers that use the Xeon 7400 chips this week, platform director Shannon Poulin said in an interview.

Intel, world's largest semiconductor maker, is speeding up product development to increase pressure on Advanced Micro Devices Inc in the server market, the most profitable segment of the chip industry. The new Xeon chip was to go on sale in the fourth quarter and debuted earlier than planned, Poulin said. “The performance is heads and tails above our previous products and where the competition is,” Poulin said.

The chip uses less electricity and is as much as 48 per cent faster than previous models, he said. Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, fell 80 cents to $19.36 at 4 pm New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have dropped 27 per cent this year. Chips for server machines can cost more than $1,000, 10 times the average price of PC processors. The more cores, the greater number of tasks processors can perform simultaneously.

The majority of chips today have two cores and more expensive models employ four. AMD doesn't have six-core chip. AMD, based in Sunnyvale, California, made its biggest gains against Intel in the server market with its Opteron chip, introduced in 2003. AMD's share in some parts of the market rose to as much as 50 per cent in 2007, before Intel fought back by speeding up product introductions.

 

State-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will extend the broadband Internet facility to all districts and blocks of the country by March 2009, an official statement said here Monday.

“Broadband coverage will be extended to 148,000 villages in the next six months from the current 30,000 villages. BSNL provides broadband services in 3,261 cities, which will be expanded to 5,000 cities by March next year,” the statement said.

Currently, BSNL covers about 95 percent of the district headquarters and about 44 percent of the blocks.

Communications and IT Minister A. Raja recently announced the government's plans to initially connect 5,000 blocks by wireless broadband soon after the allocation of the spectrum, with support from the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund.

Villages within a 10 km radius of a block headquarters will be covered by such connectivity - which will benefit institutional users like schools, public health centres, village panchayats and community service centres - meant to provide e-governance and data services to rural areas.

BSNL has already floated zonal tenders to procure 93 million lines to extend coverage of its GSM mobile services to all villages in the country with a population of more than 1,000.

It has extended 11 million GSM connections in the rural areas covering about 256,000 villages.
In order to boost telephony in rural areas, BSNL recently has introduced a tariff plan called Gramin 75, under which fixed monthly charges have been reduced from Rs.110 to Rs.75.

The plan applies to exchange systems with a capacity of between 1,000 and 29,999 lines. Fixed monthly charges of Sulabh Plan under fixed/WLL (wireless local loop) service in exchange systems of more than 29,999 lines have also been reduced from Rs.120 to Rs.99, the statement added.

 

MUMBAI, Sept 16 (Reuters) - India's insurance regulator is investigating whether American Insurance Group Inc's (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) financial crisis will have any impact on its two Indian insurance joint ventures, a senior official said on Tuesday.

AIG is the minority partner with India's Tata Group in two ventures, holding 26 percent each in Tata AIG Life Insurance Co Ltd and Tata AIG General Insurance Co Ltd.

"We are looking into the whole issue, assessing the impact, but as of now both the companies are complying with the solvency requirement," R. Kannan, a board member of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority told Reuters.

The solvency margin is the extent to which an insurance company's assets exceed its liabilities. Indian regulations require a solvency margin of 150 percent, and both of the joint ventures have margins well above that, he said.

Indian laws permit foreign firms to hold up to 26 percent in insurance firms.

AIG was thrown a $20 billion funding lifeline by New York state officials on Monday but its longer-term surival depended on additional funding, which will be hard to get as the global financial sector meltdown spreads.

On Monday, investment bank Lehman Brothers (LEH.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) filed for bankruptcy protection while its rival Merrill Lynch (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has agreed to be sold to Bank of America (BAC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for $50 billion.

 

HYDERABAD: The special session of the Assembly convened to discuss a no confidence motion against Speaker K. R. Suresh Reddy tabled by the Telugu Desam and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) concluded amid confusion after Deputy Speaker G. Kutuhulamma declared the motion defeated by voice vote and abruptly adjourned the House.

Opposition members were dazed when Ms. Kutuhalamma announced that she was putting the motion to vote even as the House was discussing, rather heatedly, the Opposition parties’ objection to her allowing a TRS rebel member Mandadi Satyanarayana Reddy to speak.

She then read out the motion and declared that it was defeated before adjourning the House sine die.

This ended the seven-and-a-half hour-long debate on no-trust motion tabled by the TDP accusing the Speaker of not being impartial by suspending its member Karanam Balaramkrishnamurthy for six months.

The TRS, through a separate motion charged him with failing to implement the anti-defection law in respect of the ten rebel MLAs against whom it had petitioned Mr. Reddy in March 2007.
The two motions were supported by 53 members, three more than the statutory requirement of 50.

They comprised 45 members of the TDP, seven of TRS and L. Raja Rao of BSP. A TDP member Veerasiva Reddy defied the party whip and did not attend the House.

Protesting against the Deputy Speaker’s action, all the opposition members squatted in the well and later staged a sit-in outside.

Trouble was sparked off when Ms. Kutuhalamma called Mr. Satyanarayana Reddy to speak on behalf of the rebel MLAs.

As TRS and TDP members rushed into the well to protest, she insisted that she had accepted their written request to air their views as they had disowned membership of TRS.

She refused to verify rival claims about the membership of rebels because the issue was pending before Mr. Suresh Reddy.

 




IN HAPPIER TIMES: Soumya (centre) with sister Sahaja (to her right) and a cousin seen in Chicago recently.



ADILABAD: Tummala Soumya Reddy, the 23-year-old MS student in Southern Illinois University, Chicago in U.S., was killed on Sunday morning by an assailant whose colour of skin remains the only mark of identity. "We were informed over phone at about 1 pm (IST) that an unidentified African American has shot dead Soumya near a lake, about 20 km from her residence in Chicago," said Gajanand Reddy of Hyderabad, a close relative of the victim.


Sahaja, Soumya’s sister who studies in another university in Chicago and Venkatram Reddy, son of Mr. Gajanand Reddy who is a software professional in Portland, Oregon, identified the girl’s body late on Sunday. The body will be brought to Hyderabad after completion of formalities, which may take 10 days’ time.


Mr. Gajanand Reddy, who is liaisoning with officials of the International Students Federation (ISF) in Chicago, said the Chicago police had not provided information with regard to the motive of the killing. "We were just informed by an officer of the ISF named Geet that Soumya had been shot dead by an unidentified person. Some of the information we got from other sources indicates that the girl was returning to the campus after consulting one of her professors under whom she apparently worked," added Mr. Gajanand Reddy.


The murder brings to an end a brilliant career even before it got going. Soumya, the second of three children of late Bhupal Reddy and Hema, was said to be extremely brilliant at studies. She had completed her BE at Hyderabad’s VIF college. Her elder sister Sahaja is also an Engineering graduate while brother Rajesh is in IIT Chennai.


Soumya had joined the MS Electronics course in August 2007 soon after completing the BE.
The family hailed from Muniyal village in Kadem mandal of Adilabad district. After the death of Bhupal Reddy, who was an employee in the Medical and Health department, Adilabad, the family had settled down in Hyderabad about 10 years అగో

 

HISTORIC VISIT: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Nepalese counter- part, Prachanda, in New Delhi on Monday.


NEW DELHI: Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) on Monday said his country’s relationship with India was “unassailable” and could not be compared with any other country. With history having created a “new atmosphere,” Nepal would like to “start afresh” on issues of discord such as water resources. “Nepal is in a very delicate and sensitive transition period. I have full confidence that we can create very conducive conditions in a very short span of time,” said the Maoist leader, who became Nepal’s Prime Minister a month ago.

“Due to our specific history, geography, cultural ties and tradition of economic interdependence, our relationship with India is crucial. Although we wish to develop ties with China, there is no question of comparison,” he said at a luncheon organised by India’s three leading chambers of commerce and industry.



Mr. Prachanda earlier placed a wreath at Rajghat and met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. He called on President Pratibha Patil and interacted with Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani.



Asked about India’s security concerns regarding the spillover of Maoist influence in Nepal, Mr. Prachanda said Kathmandu appreciated New Delhi’s apprehensions but it had its own anxieties. “We would like to go ahead collectively,” he said.



Mr. Prachanda addressed Harshpati Singhania’s complaint of labour unrest, uneven tax structure, industrial security and dumping of third country’s goods from Nepal into India.



“Without the presence of a vibrant private sector, the government alone cannot accelerate its development efforts. The Government of Nepal remains committed to adopting every possible measure to provide investors the necessary securities including repatriation of capital and profit earned by them in the country. We will do all we can to ensure industrial security in Nepal and also a fair collaborative relationship between labour and industry as well,” he said.



Mr. Prachanda said he would head a high-level investment board to reform the industrial policy, simplify procedures and encourage investments that would reduce trade deficit and prioritise exports. These measures would be harmonised with the new economic policy to ensure a “judicious distribution” of economic benefits to the people and accelerate economic growth.
Admitting that the economy was sluggish in the transition process, he said additional opportunities for Indian industry lay in reconstruction of damaged facilities and building of infrastructure.



In the hydel sector, seen as a big growth sector by the Indian industry, he was of the opinion that big projects instead of small ones should be undertaken. He accepted a draft report prepared by an industrialist for hydel policy reforms.



Ranbaxy’s representative sought simplification of procedures. The Nepal Commerce Minister assured him that his request would be examined.

 

AHMEDABAD: Khalid, Hassan and Shahealam Ansari — these are three names provided by the Ahmedabad crime branch officials to the Delhi police as the people behind the serial blasts that killed 24 in the Capital on Saturday.

The accused being interrogated for the Ahmedabad blasts and the Surat bomb planting cases are learnt to have given these three names as those involved in the Delhi blasts. This information was given by a Gujarat police team camping in Delhi to their counterparts. The team headed by a deputy superintendent of police has also given them copies of detailed confessions made by the 21 accused arrested by the crime branch in connection with the serial bomb blasts of Ahmedabad.

The team is also armed with details on the modus operandi of the gang of terrorists busted by Gujarat police. These new names have led the Delhi police to launch a manhunt in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh. “We are hunting for the three accused in Azamgarh along with various other places in Delhi and UP,” said Delhi police officials. Mufti Abdul Bashar Kasmi, one of the masterminds of the serial blasts in Ahmedabad belongs to Azamgarh.

“It now turns out that Bashar was not only one of the masterminds in Gujarat but also in Jaipur and the recent Delhi serial blasts,” said officials of Ahmedabad city police. These names and other information have been provided by some of the accused who are now in custody of the Ahmedabad crime branch. There are three other names that have been provided to the Delhi police by their Ahmedabad counterparts — Alamzeb Afridi of Juhapura who has been absconding along with terror masterminds Qayamuddin Kapadia and Abdul Subhan alias Tauqeer.

A team of Delhi police has also reached Ahmedabad to grill Bashar. According to Delhi police sources, the serial blasts of Delhi had been planned in June and this input has been given by some of the key terror accused arrested by the Ahmedabad crime branch. “On June 14, 15 and 16, Bashar, as per his own confession, was in Delhi. The Delhi police want to know where he had stayed and whom he met. They also want to know if the terrorists arrested by the crime branch knew anything about who provided logistic support to the terrorists in Delhi.

Names of those who attended terrorist training camps in Kalol and Kerala will help get some breakthrough. The Delhi police want to grill the accused with us to know more on these aspects,” said Gujarat police sources.

 

Smoking during pregnancy acts like a dual risk in respect of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) - as it not only does raise a mother's likelihood of having a preterm baby, but it also increases the infant's susceptibility to SIDS further, according to a new study. The study found that smoking not only does raises a mother's likelihood of having a preterm baby, who is already among the most vulnerable to SIDS, but also increases the infant's susceptibility to SIDS even further. In the first-ever experimental study to compare the breathing reflexes of preemies of smokers versus non-smokers, researchers found that babies whose mothers had smoked showed a number of signs of impaired respiratory function.

"Smoking during pregnancy is a double-edged sword with respect to SIDS," said Shabih Hasan, M.D., a staff neonatologist and professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Calgary, and the principal investigator of the new study. "Not only does it raise a mother''s likelihood of having a preterm baby, who is already among the most vulnerable to SIDS, but it increases the infant''s susceptibility to SIDS even further," Hasan said. Studies have indicated that a combination of hypoxia (low oxygen) and hypercarbia (excess of carbon dioxide) may be acute precursors to SIDS. Infants at the greatest risk for SIDS have been shown to have both attenuated arousal and ventilatory responses to hypoxia and/or hypercarbia.

"Preterm babies are known to have increased breathing difficulties in proportion to their prematurity and cigarette smoke is known to increase apneas in full-term babies," said Dr. Hasan. "But until now, cigarette smoke exposure and preterm birth have not been investigated together with respect to their potential effects on respiratory dysfunction," the expert added. To analyze the effects of cigarette smoke exposure on preterm infants' respiratory health and their risk of SIDS, the researchers recruited 22 preterm infants who had been spontaneously born between 28 and 32 weeks with no other complicating respiratory factors. Twelve of the infants had mothers who had smoked five or more cigarettes every day in pregnancy. The mothers of the other ten infants did not smoke during pregnancy.

They obtained baseline readings on the infants'' breathing patterns in normal conditions, assessing breathing rate, pauses in breathing, recovery period and heart rate. Saturation of oxygen in their blood was also monitored. After baseline readings were recorded, the infants were challenged with a five-minute period of decreased oxygen delivered through a nasal cannula. During this period they were monitored very closely with infant resuscitation equipment near at hand. The two groups were remarkably similar in some measures: respiratory rates and number of breathing pauses were similar among both groups of infants. But there were significant differences between the two groups of preterm babies with respect to heart rate and recovery period.

The cigarette-smoke exposed infants showed increased heart rate during the hypoxemic period compared with their baseline values, but there was no difference in heart rates was observed in control infants, indicating that the oxygen depletion put their bodies under more stress than the control groups. Furthermore, while blood oxygen levels decreased similarly in both groups during the hypoxemic challenge, infants who were exposed to cigarette smoke did not recover as well, as quickly or as often as the infants born to non-smoking mothers.

 

NEW DELHI: Unfazed by US presidential candidate Barack Obama's remarks on outsourcing, industry body Nasscom on Friday said Indian software exports are unlikely to be affected by this as offshoring is a key economic decision for US companies. "We are not sure whether he had meant outsourcing in the software sector or the manufacturing sector.

But I don't think the software exports will be affected or slow down... Such decisions (to outsource) are determined by economic considerations by (US) companies and they will find a way to remain competitive. Outsourcing is one of those ways," Nasscom President Som Mittal told PTI when asked if Obama's comment is targeted at software services exports from countries like India. India's software exports led by companies like TCS, Infosys and Wipro draw over 70 per cent of revenue from the US market. The software and services exports segment grew by 29 per cent to register revenues of $40.4 billion in 2007-08, up from $31.4 billion in 2006-07.

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US presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday said if elected to the post, he would not give any tax sops for companies that outsource work out of the country. "I will start giving them (tax breaks) to companies that create good jobs right here in America", Obama had said in his acceptance speech. "US companies are facing shortage of talent to drive the growth. It is in their interests, Mittal said. Mittal said unemployment is an emotional issue and technology companies in US are certainly not facing any unemployment problem.

They all are hiring for growth. "So where is the question of unemployment", Mittal said while asking the industry not to overreact on the issue. "These are political statements made by a candidate.. I don't think we should react too much to it," he said. Asked if Nasscom would hire any professional agency to influence the US policy makers on the benefits of outsourcing, he said "there is no need. We always provide supportive data to think tanks and other associations to supplement out position and would continue to do that", he said.

 

NEW DELHI: Far-reaching changes in the company law to improve investor protection, corporate governance and use of electronic documents would become a reality once the proposed amendments to the companies Bill are carried out. Changes in the law to this effect were cleared by the Cabinet here on Friday. The proposed amendments would enable incorporation of single-person companies and allow up to 100 partners in partnership firms compared to 20 now. The amendments mandate that at least 33% of the members on the board of companies should comprise independent directors.

The proposed changes would be introduced in Parliament during the forthcoming winter session, science & technology minister Kapil Sibal said after the Cabinet approved the amendments. Briefing newspersons after the meeting, he said the aim of the changes was to overhaul the company law and bring it in line with the times. The proposed amendments have been approved by the Cabinet four years after a decision to review the six-decade-old company law was mooted. Many changes are based on the recommendations of the Irani Committee. Amendments to the Companies Bill, 2008, coupled with the new law on limited liability partnership (LLP) firms would bring about a sea change in the way companies are regulated, Mr Sibal said.

The Bill calls for substantial reduction in government control on the affairs of companies, by promoting an era of self-regulation and shareholder democracy. Electronic documentation is being made mandatory in several cases to make information accessible to shareholders. With the ministry of corporate affairs high on its e-governance initiative, the new company law promotes easy access of corporate data over the Internet. In a major boost for individual entrepreneurs to set up their own companies, the proposed law allows formation of one-person companies, a shift that will change the present requirement of at least two persons.

Partnerships are set to gain a major advantage with the Bill extending the present threshold of 20 partners to a maximum 100, a move which is likely to promote the setting up of firms with high expertise and domain specialisation. The Bill recognises insider trading by company officials like company CEO, CFO and company secretaries as a criminal liability. Giving away with the regulatory overlaps coming in the way of operation for companies, the Bill demarcates a jurisdictional domain for legislations such as company law, Sebi Act and Banking Regulation Act. Officials told ET the new company law will apply to all companies while Sebi Act will be applicable to listed companies in matters such as issue and trading of shares and payment of dividend to shareholders. In such cases, special laws such as the Sebi Act will have overriding powers, Mr Sibal said in response to queries. Appointment of managing directors and decisions on internal affairs of companies will be left to shareholders, with the government shunning its regulatory oversight in such matters. The policy adopted under the new law substitutes governmental control in internal corporate processes by shareholder control. Transition of private companies to public companies and vice versa will get easier. To speed up the process of resolving corporate disputes, the Bill provides for setting up special courts to deal with various company law offences.

The Bill has introduced a revised framework for regulation of insolvency of a company in cases of its liquidation. The new law seeks to provide a single forum for approval of mergers and acquisitions. While high courts are responsible for clearing M&As, officials say the new law enables the sectoral regulators to approach courts for enabling hassle-free clearance for companies. The Bill will set up a separate framework for enabling fair valuations of M&As that will require valuations being done by registered valuers

 

Asean ahoy!

Posted In: . By Shamsheer Ali

The successful conclusion of negotiations on the Indo-Asean free trade agreement (FTA) should lift some of the gloom over the collapse of the Doha Round of WTO talks. Equally, if not more importantly, it should dispel the notion of India as a difficult trade negotiator, a tag that western countries, notably the US, have frequently attached to us. The agreement with the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) has been six years in the making and is the fourth regional trade agreement after the FTA with Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Singapore.

Under the deal, beginning January 2009, tariffs on 80 per cent of the commodities traded between the two sides will be reduced and will be finally eliminated by 2015. Clearly, it is not that India is unwilling to lower tariff barriers as some western countries have alleged; it is simply that trade negotiations must have an element of give-and-take or reciprocity in WTO parlance. Without that, no country will be willing to lower tariffs unilaterally, whatever the benefits of unilateral reduction in textbook economics. Issues such as rules of origin aimed at ensuring that third country exports do not get the benefit of zero tariff, and India’s willingness to allow freer import of sensitive products such as palm oil, tea, coffee and pepper did pose a problem initially.

But given the widely divergent positions on the most contentious issue — the negative list on which no tariff cuts are to be made — where India initially wanted a list of over 1,400 items and Asean, a much smaller number, the final list of 489 negative items, is remarkable progress. It is a measure also of what dogged trade negotiations can achieve, provided both sides are serious. Of course, bilateral trade agreements are much easier than multilateral negotiations. The deal will give a fillip to bilateral trade between two of the fastest-growing parts of the world, which is currently only $35 billion, less than a fifth of that between China, which already has an FTA with the trade group, and Asean. This is expected to go up to $50 billion by 2010 and once talks for trade in services and investment are also concluded by end 2009, it is bound to increase even further.

 

RBI optimistic on growth this fiscal

Posted In: . By Shamsheer Ali

In an otherwise gloomy environment, the Reserve Bank of India today appeared a tad bullish on the prospects of growth during the current financial year.

In its annual report for 2007-08, released today, RBI pointed to the grim global situation, higher risks to inflation “that appear to be persistent” and said there is fiscal pressure, both at the Centre and at the state level.

At the same time, it said that the Indian economy is expected to witness a slight moderation in the growth, which continues at an elevated level.

While maintaining that the pressure on the oil and food price front has not completely eased, it added, “Given the current structure of the Indian economy, whereby services constitute the predominant share of GDP, the adverse impact of fuel price pass-through on the GDP (gross domestic product) growth in India may be somewhat lower relative to other EMEs (emerging market economies).”

Last month, RBI had lowered its GDP growth forecast for the year to 8 per cent, even as the other agencies such as the PM’s economic advisory council are not so bullish. During the first quarter, the economy is estimated to have grown 7.9 per cent.

On inflation, the report said a realistic endeavour would be to lower it from over 12.5 per cent to close to 7 per cent by March 2009.

It also said that the high prices of crude oil, gas and coal will put pressure on coal and electricity prices. Metal prices provide the only good news, while edible oil and iron and steel may cost more.

The surge in inflation also indicates more pressures on domestic demand, growth in monetary aggregates above the indicative policy trajectory, rise in incremental non-food credit-deposit ratio of banks and evolving fiscal situation.

Despite a series of monetary tightening measures, bank credit rose 26 per cent up to August 15, as against 20 per cent being targeted by RBI. Similarly, deposits rose 22 per cent, compared with the RBI target of 17 per cent.

The central bank also advised caution on bad debt. “In conjunction with the interest rate cycles, the banking system need to be vigilant to future non-performing assets (NPAs) and the US-like sub-prime woes.

In addition to pressure from higher subsidies, RBI once again warned of the adverse fiscal impact due to the Rs 66,600 crore farm debt waiver and the Sixth Pay Commission award. For the states there was another warning bell in the form of lower devolution of central taxes due to a cut in the excise and Customs duty on petroleum products.

 

New Delhi : The World Bankhas approved USD 300 million for the national e-governance programme of India, e-Bharat.

The fund would be used for preparatory activities, including capacity building and project preparation, at identified states and central ministries.

The e-governance initiative envisages citizen-centric governance by ensuring accessibility of all government services to people.

Inplementation of e-governance is expected to bring in more transference and reliability at affordable cost.

The plan is proposed to be carried out through mission mode projects, capacity building in government, public-private partnerships etc.

 

NEW DELHI: With an upward revision in its international poverty line norm from $1 a day, a World Bank study has revealed that nearly five out of 10 Indians are living on less than $1.25 (approx. Rs. 55) a day. And what is worse, their number is on the rise, despite a fall in percentage terms.

In its update on ‘International Comparison Programme’ released on Tuesday, the World Bank said that out of an estimated population of about 100 crore in 2005, “the number of poor people living below $1.25 a day has increased from 42.1 crore in 1981 to 45.6 crore in 2005. This is the biggest challenge facing India.”

The study also pointed out that even as the number of people living on the earlier poverty line norm of less than $1 a day had come down, there was still a large number of people living just above this line of deprivation and their numbers were not falling either.

As per the revised estimates on poverty based on new purchasing power parity norms, India’s poverty rate fell by a mere 19 per cent between 1990 and 2005 as compared to a global decline of 38 per cent . In terms of a dollar a day, the number of people living below the poverty line decreased from 29.6 crore in 1981 to 26.7 crore in 2005. In comparison, China achieved a much faster rate of poverty reduction.

The study revealed that in the developing world outside China, the $ 1.25 poverty rate fell from 40 per cent to 29 per cent over the 1981-2005. However, given the growth of population, this progress was not enough to bring down the total number of poor outside China, which stayed at about 1.2 billion.

As for South Asia, the $1.25 poverty rate declined from 60 per cent to 40 per cent over the same period but that was not enough to bring down the total number of poor people in the region, which stood at about 600 million in 2005.

In India, even as the poverty rate (at $1.25 a day) as a share of the total population went down from 60 per cent in 1981 to 42 per cent in 2005, the absolute numbers went up from 420 million to 455 million in 2005 during the period.

The Bank has prescribed that for achieving a higher rate of poverty reduction, India will have to address inequalities that currently impede the poor from reaping the benefits of growth. At the same time, the update noted that the high rate of economic growth witnessed in recent years did help in reducing the incidence of poverty.

On a positive note, the World Bank update pointed out that although the developing world is poorer than expected as per the new estimates, the countries in this group, nevertheless, have been fighting poverty successfully. At this rate, it said the world was likely to reach the first millennium development goal of halving the 1990 level of poverty by 2015.

 

Posted In: . By Shamsheer Ali

NEW DELHI: With an upward revision in its international poverty line norm from $1 a day, a World Bank study has revealed that nearly five out of 10 Indians are living on less than $1.25 (approx. Rs. 55) a day. And what is worse, their number is on the rise, despite a fall in percentage terms.

In its update on ‘International Comparison Programme’ released on Tuesday, the World Bank said that out of an estimated population of about 100 crore in 2005, “the number of poor people living below $1.25 a day has increased from 42.1 crore in 1981 to 45.6 crore in 2005. This is the biggest challenge facing India.”

The study also pointed out that even as the number of people living on the earlier poverty line norm of less than $1 a day had come down, there was still a large number of people living just above this line of deprivation and their numbers were not falling either.

As per the revised estimates on poverty based on new purchasing power parity norms, India’s poverty rate fell by a mere 19 per cent between 1990 and 2005 as compared to a global decline of 38 per cent . In terms of a dollar a day, the number of people living below the poverty line decreased from 29.6 crore in 1981 to 26.7 crore in 2005. In comparison, China achieved a much faster rate of poverty reduction.

The study revealed that in the developing world outside China, the $ 1.25 poverty rate fell from 40 per cent to 29 per cent over the 1981-2005. However, given the growth of population, this progress was not enough to bring down the total number of poor outside China, which stayed at about 1.2 billion.

As for South Asia, the $1.25 poverty rate declined from 60 per cent to 40 per cent over the same period but that was not enough to bring down the total number of poor people in the region, which stood at about 600 million in 2005.

In India, even as the poverty rate (at $1.25 a day) as a share of the total population went down from 60 per cent in 1981 to 42 per cent in 2005, the absolute numbers went up from 420 million to 455 million in 2005 during the period.

The Bank has prescribed that for achieving a higher rate of poverty reduction, India will have to address inequalities that currently impede the poor from reaping the benefits of growth. At the same time, the update noted that the high rate of economic growth witnessed in recent years did help in reducing the incidence of poverty.

On a positive note, the World Bank update pointed out that although the developing world is poorer than expected as per the new estimates, the countries in this group, nevertheless, have been fighting poverty successfully. At this rate, it said the world was likely to reach the first millennium development goal of halving the 1990 level of poverty by 2015.

 

NEW DELHI: Plans for the ongoing crackdown on secessionists in Jammu and Kashmir were finalised at a meeting chaired by National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan last week, government sources told The Hindu.

Mr. Narayanan and Intelligence Bureau Director P.C. Haldar had flown to Srinagar to meet with key police, Central Reserve Police Force and military officials on August 20, amidst signs of a meltdown of the State government’s authority across the Kashmir Valley.

Senior officials present at the meeting said Mr. Narayanan told the police and administrators that the country’s authority in Jammu and Kashmir had diminished to dangerous levels. He called for restoring order, and said New Delhi would offer whatever resources were needed.
However, enforcement of the crackdown was deferred until after a secessionist rally scheduled to be held at Sringar’s Eidgah on Friday. State government officials, the sources said, were confident that the rally would remain peaceful, on the basis of private assurances from the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and Tehreek-i-Hurriyat leaders.

More important, the State government also believed that internal differences with the secessionist groups would lead to low turnout at the Eidgah protests.

In the event, over a quarter of million protesters turned out at the Eidgah, belying the State government’s claims that the secessionist protests in Jammu and Kashmir were diminishing.
In the wake of the murderous clashes, which followed a failed secessionist march to the Line of Control, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir rolled out what was described as the decompression doctrine: the deliberate disengagement of police from protests in the city, in order to allow the supercharged protests to let off steam. But the tactics backfired, allowing Islamists to take control of Srinagar.

On August 13, for example, protesters hoisted Pakistani flags over the ruins of police and CRPF posts that were destroyed after the authorities ordered their vacation.

Protesters destroyed sandbagged positions at Bagh-e-Ali Mardan, Bagh-e-Mehtab, Bohri Kadal, Kawdara, Safa Kadal and Saraf Lada.

Among the targets was a CRPF bunker near the All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s home in Rajouri Kadal, which was first to guard the secessionist politician’s home after the assassination of his father.

Protesters burned down the office of National Conference leader Mohammad Syed Akhoon, again hoisting a Pakistani flag to mark their triumph.More attacks

Similar attacks were reported outside of Srinagar, too. Mobs set ablaze the Gulshanabad police station at Charar-e-Sharif, as well as the Sheeri police station in north Kashmir. Police posts at Kohum, Klangam and Nadihal were also attacked.

Matters came to a head on Independence Day, when the CRPF personnel at Srinagar’s historic Lal Chowk pulled down the Tricolour just two hours after it was hoisted, after learning that protesters were marching there.

Pakistan’s national flag was later hoisted on the clock tower at Lal Chowk, a debacle never seen even at the height of the jihadist ascendancy in Srinagar.Ugly scenes

Ugly scenes were again evident at Friday’s gathering of protesters at the Eidgah, though the rally itself remained peaceful.

Islamist-led mobs attempted to provoke confrontations with CRPF personnel in several areas.
Groups of motorcycle-borne activists made a point of slowing down outside the few surviving CRPF outposts in the city, and shouting provocative slogans. Slogans like “Bharat teri maut ayi,” “Lashkar ayi, Lahskar ayi” [India, you death is coming, the Lashkar-e-Taiba is coming] and “Ragda, Ragda, Tiranga Ragda” [we’ve torn up the Tricolour], as well as outright communal invective, were common.

“One of the major reasons the protests snowballed to the levels we’ve seen,” a senor CRPF officer told The Hindu, “is that we allowed hard-line Islamists to run of the city, allowing them to use mosques to broadcast appeals for people to come out on the streets. Our withdrawal also allowed them to pressure people otherwise unsympathetic to the secessionist cause to join the protests.

CRPF and police personnel have now begun to reassert their presence across towns and cities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Officials say all posts destroyed in recent weeks will be rebuilt. “We’re willing to sustain this crackdown for as long as it takes,” a senior police officer said.

 

Hyderabad : Political parties in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday reacted guardedly to Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi's grand entry into politics, saying the actor was yet to clearly spell out the policies and programmes on his new party Praja Rajyam (People's Rule).

While the ruling Congress put up a brave front saying its welfare schemes and innovative development programmes would stand the party in good stead, the main opposition Telugu Desam Party said the filmstar had nothing new to offer.

"His (Chirajeevi's) maiden political speech (at the temple town of Tirupati on Tuesday) was virtually silent on key issues facing the state. It was only a piece of cinematic rhetoric," state ministers K Lakshminarayana, N Raghuveera Reddy and T Jeevan Reddy said.
They said the filmstar spoke in general terms about the problems of various sections but failed to explain how he would go about solving them.


"There was no clarity on important issues like Telangana, categorisation of Scheduled Castes and Naxalism. He also did not spell out his party's policies and programmes," the ministers told reporters.

After months of speculation, Chiranjeevi, a popular hero who acted in 148 films in a three decade-long career, launched his party before a mammoth gathering at Tirupati on Tuesday in an event that evoked memories of matinee idol late N T Rama Rao taking the political plunge at the same venue over 25 years ago.

While asserting that his party would strive for social justice and welfare of the weaker sections and farmers, Chiranjeevi skirted thorny issues like Telangana saying a collective decision would be taken on all sensitive matters after a wider debate.

"What is the new thing that he has said?" wondered TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu.
"In democracy, anyone can join politics and launch a party. Ultimately, the people will decide based on your policies and programmes. The TDP is always with the people, tyring to understand and solve their problems," Naidu, whose party has suffered desertions in recent times, said.

The TDP Deputy Floor leader in the Assembly N Janardhan Reddy said Chiranjeevi was yet to unveil details of his political agenda.

Acknowledging that Chiranjeevi would certainly make an impact on the state politice scene, CPI (M) Secretary B V Raghavulu said his party would consider joining hands with Praja Rajyam only if it came up with a clear policy statement on key issues.

"He has not stated his party's stand on issues like federalism, Indo-US nuclear deal, communal politics and the need for forging a third alternative," Raghavulu said.

Though Chiranjeevi, in his maiden public meeting, appeared flexible on the issue of Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) which is the forefront of statehood cause, said the actor should spell out his stand clearly.

"The people of Telangana will accept only if he unequivocally supports the demand for separate state. We will formulate our position only after he makes his stand clear," TRS President K Chandrasekhar Rao.

However, the BJP, which also supports Telangana demand, welcomed Chiranjeevi's "favourable disposition" towards the statehood cause.

"We appreciate his (Chiranjeevi's) comments on Telangana sentiment and the discrimination that the region has been suffering in all sectors. But we want him to make his stand clear on the demand for carving out separate Telangana state," senior BJP leader Ch Vidyasagar Rao told reporters here.
The actor had said
that his party respects Telangana sentiment and would "cooperate and assist" in the process of formation of new state if such a situation becomes inevitable.

No other political event in recent times had evoked so much enthusiasm as the megastar's maiden public rally. His entry into politics, with change and social justice as the main planks, is expected to have significant impact on the next year's Assembly elections.

Even before his political foray, desertions have started from the main political parties.
Soon after the actor's announcement of political entry on August 17, senior Congress MP from Narsapur resigned from the party to join Chiranjeevi's party.

Several frontline TDP leaders, including Rajya Sabha member C Ramachandraiah, former minister K Vidyadhar Rao and former MP B Nagi Reddy and his wife Shobha quit the party and joined Chiranjeevi's party.

 

Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi on Tuesday launched his political party Praja Rajyam (People's Rule) and said social justice would be its goal.


More Information: click this link

www.chiruforparty.blogspot.com

 

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan's political turmoil deepened Tuesday after the two main parties in the ruling coalition split, weakening the fragile government just a week after president Pervez Musharraf resigned.

The world's only nuclear-armed Islamic nation, already facing a fresh campaign of bombings by a resurgent militant movement, now faces the prospect of a bitter political battle over the choice of Musharraf's successor.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif pulled his party out of the coalition on Monday, saying they were moving to the opposition because of what he said were the broken promises of the other main party's leader, Asif Ali Zardari.

He said Zardari had gone back on a pledge to reinstate dozens of judges sacked last year by Musharraf -- an issue that has been at the centre of a political dispute in Pakistan for the past year.

"We have taken this decision after we failed to find any ray of hope and none of the commitments made to us were fulfilled," Sharif said Monday. "This situation forced us to withdraw our support."

Zardari, in a televised address late Monday, appealed for Sharif's return to the government.
"We are sad over Nawaz Sharif's decision. We want to move together and solve the problems facing the nation," he said. "We will request Nawaz Sharif to return to the government."

Meanwhile, Pakistani stocks reacted negatively over the break up and slumped four percent on Tuesday. The benchmark Karachi Stock Exchange KSE-100 Index finished down 383.37 points to close at 9,430.29.

Lawyers meanwhile called for a nationwide protest on Thursday to demand the reinstatement of the judges, who were pushed out as Musharraf purged his opponents in the judiciary.

Sharif's PML-N party has put forward a candidate to challenge Zardari, widower of another former premier, Benazir Bhutto, on September 6, when lawmakers will select who will be the country's next president.

Zardari and the PML-N candidate, former judge Saeed uz Zaman Siddiqui, will face off against the party formerly behind Musharraf, which has nominated its secretary general, Mushahid Hussain.

Candidates filed their election papers on Tuesday.

Political chaos is nothing new in Pakistan, which has been under military rule -- including under General Musharraf -- for more than half of its existence since being partitioned from India after World War II.

But the months of turmoil that eventually forced Musharraf to resign last week under threat of impeachment, and the new split between Sharif and Zardari, have made Western allies jittery about Pakistan's role in the "war on terror."

The United States, which turned Musharraf into an ally after the September 11 attacks and has supplied the country with tens of billions of dollars in aid since then, played down the importance of the split.

"I don't anticipate it would have any impact on our joint efforts to combat extremism," said US State Department spokesman Robert Wood.

The strategically important country -- which has the second-largest Muslim population in the world -- has seen a resurgence of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militant activity in the lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border.

While critics have long charged that Pakistan's powerful intelligence service actually helps to support the militants, the military is nevertheless also pursuing a tough campaign against the Islamist guerrillas.

Clashes in one region alone have left around 500 people dead in the last fortnight, and the Pakistani Taliban have said the latest wave of suicide bombings will continue until the assault is stopped.

In some of the latest violence on Tuesday, unknown gunmen opened fire on the car of a US diplomat in the northwestern city of Peshawar, but she escaped unhurt, police said.

The government said Monday it had banned the main Taliban militant umbrella group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, and frozen its bank accounts and assets.

 





Chiranjeevi addressing his maiden public meeting at Avilala Tank Grounds in Tirupathi on Tuesday.


Tirupati (PTI): In true cinematic style, Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi launched his party 'Praja Rajyam' before a mammoth crowd of his fans and supporters pledging to work for social justice as its main agenda and to root out corruption.


He made the much-awaited announcement in this temple town in filmy style after a long speech and a short dialogue session with the assembled gathering. Soon after he announced the name a short song and sequence came on the giant screen behind him on the dais which the few lakh audience lapped it up enormously.


The 53-year-old matinee idol and son of a police constable outlined his party's vision in various sectors and also unveiled the party flag -- green and white with the sun in the middle - amidst rapturous applause from the huge gathering.


In his more than hour-long speech, the megastar, however, skirted thorny issues like Telangana statehood demand, naxalism and categorisation of Scheduled Castes, saying a "collective decision" would be taken on these matters after "scientific evaluation".


"On these sensitive issues, I cannot take an immediate decision. We will take inputs from intellectuals and come to a collective decision", Chiranjeevi told the gathering at the sprawling 120-acre Avilala Tank.


Chiranjeevi, a Padma Bhushan awardee, has acted in 148 films. Former President A P J Abdul Kalam had inspired him to take a plunge into politics and vowed to bring about positive change in politics.


Earlier, excited over their matinee idol's political debut, Chiranjeevi's fans went out of control at the site of the public meeting leading police to lathicharge on them. Thousands of Chiranjeevi fans, who poured in from all over Andhra Pradesh to listen to their star revealing the name and agenda of his party, swamped into the chamber which was alloted for physically challenged people. Chiranjeevi said his party would work for the empowerment of poor and weaker sections of the society.


Touching upon a string of socio-economic issues, he said Praja Rajyam would accord top priority for agricultural development and welfare of farmers, primary health, education, labour welfare, opportunities for youth and women.


The actor, who was the sole speaker at the more than two-hour-long meeting, also promised to come up with a clear-cut policy on regulation of liquor trade. "Fighting corruption, particularly the political corruption, will be one of our main agenda," Chiranjeevi said. "Change and Social Justice" appeared to be the mantra of mega star as he unveiled his political vision before the gathering. "Today, we are sounding the bugle for a major battle against the social ills.


There are no leaders in the battle but only servants. I am your servant. We will win this battle. No one can stop us," Chiranjeevi said with a dramatic flourish.


On the raging demand for separate Telangana state, Chiranjeevi appeared to tread a cautious path. Attributing the backwardness in Telangana region to the failure of the successive governments, he said, "if the division becomes inevitable, we will co-operate and assist the process.


Let us respect the sentiments of the region which has suffered neglect in all sectors."
Chiranjeevi, who hails from the backward 'Kapu' community, said his party would also work for "additional reservations" for the economically backward among the forward castes. Invoking Kalam's pet concept of PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas), he said Praja Rajyam would strive for realising the dream of "Gram Swaraj." Referring to the controversy over Special Economic Zones, he said his party would oppose acquisition of farm lands for SEZs.


"While we are for industrialisation, we will not allow fertile lands to be taken over in the name of development. We will also oppose selling away of government lands," Chiranjeevi said.

 


MobileAdda, the first of its kind anywhere anytime mobile version of the BigAdda website has been launched by BigAdda. The youth networking site is the first one to offer a complete social networking site for mobile phones. This product should enable BigAdda to reach out to wider range of users considering this is the widest release of any mobile application globally.


Shivanandan Pare, Chief Operating Officer, BigAdda remarked about this initiative, “With a registered user base of 2 million in a year we needed to sensitize the platform to local aspirations and needs of the market. The number of mobile users today far exceeds the penetration and usage of PCs in India. The imperative was to create a mobile application to give the controls of social networking, anytime – anywhere, literally. Currently BigAdda.com is reaching out to the 40 million internet user base in India and with us going on to the mobile platform we will be able to reach to additional 50 million mobile internet users and this will enhance our reach to the masses.”


Giving users a 24×7 access of the BigAdda website, the application will allow users to search and communicate with friends in innovative ways like text, voice and photo scribbles. You also have an option for inviting them from your phonebook. You don’t need to worry about a backup of phonebook contacts as a built in phone book backup utility stores your phone book on the server. Thus retrieving contacts incase if you change your device becomes effortless.


MobileAdda promises to keep you much ahead of your time with alert, notifications, auto-updates and helpful tips. The product additionally features emoticons and shout outs, an online status, option to click, send and view photos along with a distinct privacy option. The privacy function ensures you receive scribbles only from friends.


More than 300 million mobile users can access BigAdda website with MobileAdda. The application is installable in over 500 different mobile devices with an integrated platform offered across SMS and WAP.


The client application is available for download in over 500 device families. You don’t need to worry about whether the application version will be compatible with your devices. A version created especially for a particular phone is downloaded as the download process automatically detects the user’s handset model.


You can access MobileAdda via SMS by simply typing “BIGADDA” as a text message and sending it to 55454. The service is available for WAP users at BigAdda website. The application can also be downloaded and installed on your phone by sending an SMS “ADDA” to 55454 or by visiting the BigAdda website.

 

MUMBAI: Life companies have expressed concern that sale of insurance cover by mutual funds could undermine the distribution infrastructure of life companies. They have also complained to the regulator that such a move would end up violating guidelines of the insurance regulator. This is the latest in the ongoing turf war between the mutual fund and the life insurance industry.

Mutual funds have been attacking insurers over the lack of transparency and high charges in unit-linked insurance plans — insurance products that mimic mutual funds. Insurers have responded saying they are only exploiting the failure of the mutual fund industry to build a distribution force to sell to retail.

Mutual funds have decided to get back at insurers by introducing systematic investment plans (SIPs) with a built-in life insurance cover. The insurance covers on the SIP were small and given away without any charge to the investor. Now, the mutual funds have submitted a proposal where they will sell insurance cover against which premium will be collected. Speaking to ET, Life Insurance Council chief executive SB Mathur said: “Insurance companies are spending hundreds of crores on training agents to sell insurance. If mutual fund distributors are allowed to sell insurance without adequate training, the sanctity of the training would be lost.

” According to Mr Mathur, so far the insurance cover has been restricted to the target investment value (the total amount expected to be saved under a systematic investment plan). However, if mutual funds were given too much flexibility in the level of insurance cover, it could weaken the quality of underwriting and safeguards followed by life insurance companies. Insurers also point out that according to IRDA guidelines, any buyer of insurance should be made aware of the name of the company from which he is buying insurance.

In the past, the regulator had barred people from naming products in such a manner that it is identified predominantly with the distributor. The other issue raised by life insurers is that of the social obligation of insurance companies. The directive to sell over a fifth of their policies in the rural sector has forced companies to invest in rural areas where costs are averaged out because of sales in urban areas. Mutual funds have no such obligation and sell largely in urban areas. Insurers say allowing them to distribute insurance can lead to cherry-picking by mutual funds.

 

The SC Monday stayed proceedings against auction portal eBay India and its chief Avinash Bajaj for allegedly permitting the sale of an MMS clip showing two students from a Delhi school indulging in a sexual actNew Delhi: The Supreme Court today stayed the proceedings against auction portal eBay India and its chief Avinash Bajaj for allegedly permitting the sale of an MMS clip showing two school students from a Delhi school indulging in a sexual act.A bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir, while issuing notice to the Delhi government, stayed the proceedings under Sections 67 and 85 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.While Section 67 bans publishing obscene information in electronic form, Section 85 allows the prosecution of a person responsible for the business of a company over violations.Bajaj, the then managing director of baazee.Com (now Ebay India Pvt Ltd), was arraigned for allowing the MMS clip, recorded on a mobile phone camera, to be uploaded on the company's auction site in 2004. Bajaj, a US citizen, had subsequently sold baazee.Com to eBay in 2004.Challenging the Delhi High Court judgment that quashed proceedings under the India Penal Code on May 29 but permitted prosecution under the I-T Act, Bajaj contended that mere listing could not be construed as a crime under the act.Bajaj in his petition stated that Section 67 of the Act, does not define the term obscenity and thus liability cannot be fixed on him for merely listing of the 2.37-minute clip video clip even if it was obscene."Even assuming that video clip is obscene, mere 'listing' cannot be obscene for the purpose of Section 67 of the Act merely because the video clip may be obscene," he said while seeking quashing of all the proceedings against him. According to the petition, the apex court in its ruling had held that mere 'listing' cannot be treated as obscene and what is required under law was an overt act. Thus for the purpose of interpretation of the term 'causes to be published' under the statue, a specific over act was essential, he said, adding mere inaction does not constitute 'cause' unless there was culpable negligence.No such over act of publication can be attributed to him either in person or as the managing director of the company, Bajaj added.Offering a partial relief to former managing director of Bazee.Com, the High Court had dropped charges of selling and distributing obscene book or object with an intention to blackmail.It had dropped sections 292 (selling of obscene material) and 294 (obscene act) under IPC but made it clear that the case under the I-T Act, for selling the video clip, would continue against Bajaj."As far as Bajaj is concerned, since the IPC does not recognise the concept of an automatic criminal liability attaching to the Director where the company is an accused not even a prima facie case for offence under sections 292 and 294 is made out..," the High court had stated.The High Court rejected the submission made by the prosecution that Bajaj was responsible for the illegal display of the clip both in official as well as in his personal capacity.In December 2004, the Delhi police had registered an FIR against Bajaj and his company Bazee.Com India Pvt Ltd for illegally displaying the video clip.

 

Britannia to raise prices by 8-12%

Posted In: . By Shamsheer Ali

NEW DELHI: Leading biscuit maker Britannia said on Monday it is contemplating raising the prices of its products by 8-12% to cope with the rising input costs. “We have seen an increase of around 20% in input costs in various categories since last year or so.

If the inflationary trend continues, we may have to hike prices of our products,” Britannia industries V-P (Sales, Marketing and Innovation) Neeraj Chandra said. “We cannot predict the time period or the percentage of hike,” he said, adding the rise would be around 8 to 12%. The company, at the same time, would continue to add its production capacity and increase investment for brining out new products and formats.

He said biscuit industry is a “mass and scale based one and, therefore, the rising input costs cannot be absorbed over a longer period of time.” He cited the prices of wheat, sugar and crude oil as the primary factors behind rise in cost prices

 

Mixed views on Infosys-Axon deal

Posted In: . By Shamsheer Ali

MUMBAI: Though Infosys-Axon deal is being hailed as the largest outbound acquisition by an Indian IT company, some market participants believe it will have no major financial impact on the IT bellwether. They agree that this is a strategic buy in the consulting and package implementation space, but express concern on any sharp appreciation in the rupee against various currencies and a prolonged recession in major user economies.

The announcement of the Axon buy did little for Infosys ADR on Monday and it ended down 4 per cent at $39.90 on the Nasdaq, trailing the weakness in US markets. Infosys announced acquiring UK-based Axon Group in a 407-million pound (Rs 3,310 crore) all-cash deal after market hours Monday. The deal is expected to be consummated by November 2008, with the payment being made in December, and would add to its earnings from January 2009, Infosys said.

Infosys shares looked up at start Tuesday on the back of the news and a slide in the rupee to a 17-month low against the dollar. But the stock ended off the day's high on account of profit booking. "Infosys' proposed take over of Axon Group may be a tad expensive, and not exactly be a value buy, but it is a better investment than making cash sit idle in your balance sheet. This should essentially take the pressure off the management and give them the elbow room to now look at better fitting plays, something that they had been avoiding so far," said Anagram Stock Broking. However, the broking house is worried that the Eurozone may face more slowdown than the US.

Hence, investing in a company that draws majority of its earnings from the zone may not be a very good buy. Kotak Securities believes Axon is a strategic fit for Infosys, which has been consistently looking to expand its consulting and package implementation capabilities and its presence in Europe.

Kotak has maintained a 'buy' on the stock for a target of Rs 2,027 and is certain that the deal will allow Infosys to gain in terms of acquisition of marquee customers, wider reach, improved transformational capabilities and incremental abilities to bid for larger deals. "Infosys values Axon at nearly 2 times CY07 revenues and about 20 times CY07 earnings, which is fair in our view. Axon's revenues and PAT have grown by 43% and 68% CAGR, respectively over the past 5 years, albeit partly due to acquisitions," said the broking house.

 

NEW DELHI: The industrial climate is "getting difficult" in West Bengal where the government needs to address the Singur issue if the state wants to remain an investment destination, CII President K V Kamath said today. After attending an industry leaders' meeting with Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Kamath said before going into any state, an industry undertakes due diligence on the environment in the state. However, the environment in West Bengal "is getting difficult," he said, adding it would "certainly bring difficulties in the minds of the industry" scouting for new locations.

"This is something that needs to be addressed if the state continues to be magnet for industry," Kamath said. He said the Singur issue did not figure in the discussion with Chidambaram because, "our view is that this is something that is best handled at the state level at this point of time".

He hoped the industry group (the Tatas) and the state would work on resolving the issue. Last week, Ratan Tata had threatened to take the Nano project elsewhere if the protests did not end. Trinamool Congress cadres led by its chief Mamata Banerjee have laid a siege to the Tata Motors factory in Singur demanding return of 400 acres of land to farmers. "In any location if industry finds that it is not able to execute the project or commission the project, I think it is a matter of concern and I am sure the concerned industrial group and the state government will find a solution which is amicable," Kamath said

 

Singur : Work at the Tata Motors small car plant here continued to suffer on Tuesday because of thin attendance of contract workers, as an indefinite sit-in by the Trinamool Congress partymen entered the third day.

"Attendance of the company officials was around 85 per cent, but only 20 per cent contractual workers turned up," a Tata Motors spokesman told PTI.

TC chief Mamata Banerjee said the agitation would not be called off unless the state government agrees to the party's demand for return of 400 acres of land to farmers who were allegedly forced to give up their property.

The busy Durgapur expressway near the Tata Motors plant remained closed because of the dharna, causing a traffic snarl.

Home Secretary Ashoke Mohan Chakraborty said police in Hooghly has been asked to talk to the TC leadership for reopening one side of the expressway.

 

New Delhi : The government will hold a meeting with private broadcasters on the much delayed Content Code next week.

"I am holding a meeting next week and then we will decide," Minister for information and broadcasting (I&B) Priya Rranjan Dasmunsi told PTI on the sidelines of a book release function here on Monday.

Content Code, which calls for regulation of content shown by private television channels, has been under much debate as broadcasters see it as a move by the Government to control their programmes.

Referring to the media coverage of the much-reported Aarushi Talwar murder case, he said, "I am keeping a close watch on TV coverage and media should take lessons from the way it covered the case."

The Supreme Court as well as the government were critical of media's role in the manner of the twin murder case was covered.

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA), a body of private news broadcasters, had last week formed the 'News Broadcasting Standards (Disputes Redressal) Authority' to enforce NBA's code of ethics and broadcasting standards. The authority will become operational from October 2.

 

NEW DELHI: Omprakash, alias Bunty, fell as dramatically as his career in crime had risen in the past three months. The 30-year-old robber, whose biker gang had let loose terror on the streets of the capital, was killed in an early morning encounter on Monday at a half-built in south Delhi. Bunty and his accomplice, Rajesh Sharma (26), who also died, were holed up in the house for the past two days, plotting the murder of two businessmen.

With the encounter, the curtains came down on the one-and-a-half-month-long manhunt for the 5 feet, 8 inches tall school dropout which had taken the Delhi Police to various places in Delhi and NCR. Four policemen, including an inspector, were injured in the shootout at Saurabh Vihar near Badarpur.

The house reportedly belongs to the owners of Mittal Gardens. Police raided the property after getting a tip-off that Bunty and his accomplices were hiding in Delhi and had been threatening two businessmen — Pawan and Naresh Garg from Madangir — who were going to depose against him.

At 4.30am on Monday, a 25-member police team zeroed in on the house where the two criminals were sleeping. When asked to surrender, Bunty and Rajesh opened fire. As the sole entry to the house was locked from inside, the police returned fire through the window. According to the team members, the criminals fired at least 24 rounds. Finally, clad in bulletproof jackets, the policemen broke open the door and entered the house.

 

Washington : As India and the US work overtime to get a clean NSG waiver, the Bush Administration said the Indo-US atomic deal was currently the "principal focus" of its nuclear policy and given a priority over a similar pact with Russia.

Asked whether developments in Georgia will affect the US-Russia civilian nuclear deal, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the present focus of America's nuclear commerce policy was the India deal and not the one with Russia.

"Our principal focus right now has been on the India civil nuclear deal, having worked through the IAEA, now working through the NSG, and still trying to get into a position to make the appropriate presidential determinations in early September. So that's our focus right now on the civil nuclear side," Rice told reporters on her way to Tel Aviv.

Rice's comments came even as Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon discussed a strategy with senior US officials in Washington to address reservations expressed by some countries at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) over the draft waiver that is required to push the Indso-US nuke deal forward.

Echoing Rice's sentiments, White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto said the current focus of the administration was to see the India-US deal through. The fate of the deal rests with the 45-member NSG which is due to meet for the second time in two weeks on September 6.
"I think we have another nuclear agreement in the queue ahead of that (Russian deal), that we're really focussed on right now, and that's the India civil nuclear agreement. And that's generating a lot of work and time and energy on our part to get that done," Fratto said.

"We were able to work that through the IAEA and now working with the NSG, and trying to get that through NSG, and eventually for presentation to our Congress," Fratto added.

The Deputy Press Secretary was asked whether America intends to pull out of the US-Russia civilian nuclear agreement, given Russia's military action in Georgia, or the deal would be completed by the end of the year.

 

Jammu : In yet another ceasefire violation along the LoC, four BSF personnel were on Tuesday injured in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district when Pakistani forces allegedly opened fire from across the border while a group of armed militants sneaked into the Indian side through Kana Chak area.

BSF posts in K P Nallah area in Samzian belt of Poonch came under firing and mortar attacks early on Tuesday, BSF officials told PTI, adding there was nor retaliatory fire. The firing came from Pakistan NCCP post resulting in the injury to four BSF personnel including a sub-inspector and an assistant sub-inspector.

In another incident along International Border in Jammu frontier, a group of armed militants sneaked into Indian territory under cover of firing from the Pakistani side, following which a massive operation was launched by BSF. "A group of three to four militants have infiltrated into the state through Kana Chak border after cutting the fence and under the cover of firing from the Pakistan side around 0145 hours", BSF DIG S Sagwan said.

"The BSF, army and police personnel have cordoned off the entire belt and tracker dogs have been pressed into the operation," Sagwan told PTI. Giving details, he said a group of 20-30 unidentified ultras took positions close to the International Border on the Pakistan side and opened indiscriminate firing on border patrol parties around 12.30 am.

Asked whether Pakistan troops were involved in the firing, he said their involvement cannot be ruled out. "We are looking into all aspects of the incident." The ultras infiltrated through the Layliyal border outpost by cutting a three-tier fence, he said, adding some arms and ammunition were recovered from the area.

 

Bhubaneswar : Seven people were killed, four of them in police firing, in unabated violence in Orissa's Kandhamal district, taking the toll to nine, in the backlash to the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati as curfew was clamped in all major towns of the district.

Four persons persons were killed when the police opened fire to disperse a mob which attacked places of worship, prayer halls and shops at Barakhama in Kandhamal district, Director General of Police Gopal Chandra Nanda said.

Three persons were killed when their houses were torched in Raikia area around midnight on Monday night, official sources said.

Two others, including a woman, were killed when a missionary-run orphanage was set on fire on Monday.

Almost the entire Kandhamal district was placed under indefinite curfew following continued violence. All major towns are under curfew and Rapid Action Force (RAF), CRPF and state police were deployed, Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Southern Division) Satyabrata Sahu told PTI over phone.

 

Porn mode comes to IE8

Posted In: . By Shamsheer Ali

NEW DELHI: Microsoft is adding a private browsing mode in the next version of its web browser Internet Explorer 8.

Popularly called porn browsing mode (as one of the most obvious advantage of the feature is that users browse porn sites without leaving a trace), it will form a part of its IE 8's beta 2 scheduled for release this month.

Porn mode will allow users to erase their online history, cache and personal information entered or shared by users. Also, it will alert users in case they are being tracked.

The feature seems to be a part of Microsoft’s new emphasis on user privacy, a sour point with many IE users. In fact, in a recent blog post, Microsoft said that privacy is one of the major components of the "trustworthy browsing" element of Internet Explorer 8. Incidentally, IE8 will not be the first browser to offer private browsing, Apple’s Safari browser has this feature since 2005. Also, Mozilla too planned to include this feature in its latest browser Firefox 3, but didn't include it due to some “complex designing” issues.

However, Firefox 3 has an option that allows users to delete history and cookies immediately at the end of a session or during every session start up.

Microsoft has released first beta of IE8 in March. Though company officials have declined to say when the final version of IE8 will come, reports indicate that it will be out by the end 2008

 

NEW DELHI: A woman Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) official allegedly attempted suicide by taking some poisonous substance at the Prime Minister’s Office here on Tuesday. She was stated to be out of danger.

The incident took place around 2 p.m. when 46-year-old Nisha Bhatia, a Director in the Cabinet Secretariat, allegedly took poison after being denied entry. She had previously lodged a complaint alleging harassment at workplace.

Ms. Bhatia was rushed to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital where she is under observation. The police will take necessary action on the basis of her statement.

According to a Cabinet Secretariat release, Ms. Bhatia had lodged a complaint last year alleging sexual harassment by her Joint Secretary. It was enquired into by the Complaint Committee and an external woman officer was also involved. However, Ms. Bhatia withdrew her complaint, said the release, adding that the official was given several opportunities to present her case, but she refused to cooperate. The committee summed up the inquiry on May 19 and found that her allegations were not substantiated.

Several complaints against Ms. Bhatia were received meanwhile from different officials alleging unauthorised communication, contact with the media, insubordination, misbehaviour, abuse of authority and sending objectionable and offensive SMS to senior officials. “Based on the examination of reports of her ‘erratic’ behaviour, a senior medical officer of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences suspected presence of a psychiatric illness in her and advised psychiatric opinion to assess her condition,” said the release.

According to the Cabinet Secretariat, Ms. Bhatia was advised to go for medical counselling, but she refused. In view of the complaints against her, a preliminary enquiry was ordered on August 8.

 

Posted In: . By Shamsheer Ali

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Both men and women find members of the opposite sex more attractive if they have symmetrical bodies -- not just symmetrical faces -- new research says.

Researchers from Brunel University in the United Kingdom found that study subjects deemed the most symmetrical body type to be 63 per cent more attractive compared to the most asymmetrical body type.

Previous research has shown that most people find a symmetrical face to be more beautiful than an asymmetrical face.

Researchers believe humans are more attracted to symmetrical faces and bodies because they are signs of a more desirable mate. Humans may perceive asymmetrical features to be a sign of weakness or disease, which may make procreation difficult.

"Symmetry reflects good development," lead study author, William M. Brown, told CTV.ca in an email interview.

"In animals with two sides that were designed by natural selection to be symmetrical, subtle departures (one to three per cent of trait size) from perfect symmetry may reflect poor development or exposure to stress (environmental and/or genetic). In many species the degree of departure from perfect symmetry is related to poor health, lower survival and fewer offspring."

The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Brown and colleagues used a 3-D optical scanner to create detailed, 360 degree images of the body shapes of 77 people. The images were a neutral colour and did not include heads, so subjects would not be influenced by factors such as facial characteristics.

The team then asked 87 people to rate bodies of the opposite sex for attractiveness.

They also asked the study subjects to evaluate the body types for so-called "body masculinity," which includes male characteristics such as greater height, wider shoulders and smaller breasts.
The subjects found symmetric men with high body masculinity and symmetric women with low body masculinity the most attractive.

Brown said this research leads to two avenues of study. First of all, researchers are investigating how body masculinity and femininity might influence body movement.

He said that humans, like other animals, may also choose mates based on physical movements, ranging from dancing to changing facial expressions, that they find attractive.

As well, Brown would like to investigate "if symmetrical people have more high quality offspring than asymmetrical people."

Brown pointed to American data that suggested symmetrical newborns were physically and mentally healthier compared to their more asymmetrical counterparts. However, this data omitted information about the symmetry of the babies' parents.

Abstract:

Fluctuating asymmetry and preferences for sex-typical bodily characteristics
William M. Brown, Michael E. Price, Jinsheng Kang, Nicholas Pound, Yue Zhao, and Hui Yu
Body size and shape seem to have been sexually selected in a variety of species, including humans, but little is known about what attractive bodies signal about underlying genotypic or phenotypic quality.

A widely used indicator of phenotypic quality in evolutionary analyses is degree of symmetry (i.e., fluctuating asymmetry, FA) because it is a marker of developmental stability, which is defined as an organism's ability to develop toward an adaptive end-point despite perturbations during its ontogeny.

Here we sought to establish whether attractive bodies signal low FA to observers, and, if so, which aspects of attractive bodies are most predictive of lower FA. We used a 3D optical body scanner to measure FA and to isolate size and shape characteristics in a sample of 77 individuals (40 males and 37 females). From the 3D body scan data, 360° videos were created that separated body shape from other aspects of visual appearance (e.g., skin color and facial features).

These videos then were presented to 87 evaluators for attractiveness ratings. We found strong negative correlations between FA and bodily attractiveness in both sexes. Further, sextypical body size and shape characteristics were rated as attractive and correlated negatively with FA. Finally, geometric morphometric analysis of joint configurations revealed that sex-typical joint configurations were associated with both perceived attractiveness and lower FA for male but not for female bodies.

In sum, body size and shape seem to show evidence of sexual selection and indicate important information about the phenotypic quality of individuals.

 

Condom ringtone launched in India

Posted In: . By Shamsheer Ali

NEW DELHI (AFP) — A cellphone ringtone that chants "condom, condom!" has been launched in India to promote safe sex and tackle the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The "condom a cappella" has been designed to break down Indians' reluctance to discuss condom use and to make wearing a condom more acceptable.

Organisers of the campaign, funded by the foundation set up by Microsoft mogul Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, hope the ringtone will become a craze among young Indians.

About 2.5 million people live with HIV in India, said the BBC World Service Trust, the charity behind the ringtone, which was released this month. It can be downloaded at

condomcondom.org.

"Ringtones have become such personal statements that a specially created condom ringtone seemed just the right way of combining a practical message with a fun approach," said Radharani Mitra, creative director of the BBC World Service Trust.

"The idea is to tackle the inhibitions and taboos that can be associated with condoms."

India is the world's fastest-growing mobile telephone market with 270 million users according to the latest official figures, up 57 percent in just one year.

 

New Delhi The All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Tuesday set up a special committee to probe deaths of 49 children during clinical trials at the premier hospital.
The five-member committee, headed by neuro department head Madhuri Bihari, would submit its report within a week, official sources said.

The committee was set up after Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss directed the AIIMS Director to probe the deaths expeditiously.

The issue had come up for discussion in the Governing Body meeting.

In reply to an RTI application, the AIIMS administration had said that as many as 49 children have died during clinical trials of new medicines in the premier institute here during the past two-and-a-half years.

The AIIMS administration, however, said all the 49 children were mortally sick and died naturally and not due to any drugs used in the trials.

 

NEW DELHI: It's all about first movers advantage. Nokia Nseries, the multimedia sub-brand of Nokia has gone ahead and launched N96 - its converged device in India. Optimized for web access and entertainment, the dual-slide Nokia N96 is a blend of style and cutting edge technology and represents a whole new chapter in mobile technology. N96 is the first ever mobile device to offer a memory size of 16GB expandable to 24 GB through an external micro SD card, allowing consumers to store hours of media and be entertained on the go. It will be available across the country starting September 2008.

Nokia also announced a pre-booking scheme, offering consumers the opportunity to secure the N96 in advance. The offer will be valid through 2000 Nokia outlets across the country starting August 20, 2008. The 24GB (16+8) memory of the N96 can store up to 18000 songs, up to 20000 images at 5 mega pixel, up to 60 hours of video or 20 full length movies. With multifunctional media keys and a 2.8” screen, music, movies, games and more are available at the touch of a button.

To make playing, watching, listening or experiencing the content even more enjoyable, the Nokia N96 features a 'kickstand' on the back cover that allows for hands-free viewing. It is also the first ever mobile device to come preloaded with Wave Secure, a S60 unique security application that allows consumers not just to track their handset in the event it is lost or stolen, but also create a backup for the phone data via the Internet. This is an application being offered exclusively to consumers in India.
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Nokia's range of multi-function, converged devices clearly demonstrates that convergence is no longer an industry buzzword - it is a reality for consumers and business users today. In 2007, the Nokia N95 became an icon for convergence of Internet and mobility.

With over 10 million units sold to date, the N95 has changed the way people use their mobile device,” says Devinder Kishore, Director-Marketing, Nokia India, “Today, in the Web 2.0 Era, the new Nokia N96 places the power to shape the Internet in your hands, in addition to being to the ultimate entertainment gadget”.

 

MUMBAI: Reliance Communications Ltd on Tuesday announced the launch of its DTH venture, Reliance BIG TV Ltd, which boasts of world’s most advanced MPEG4 Direct-to-Home platform. Reliance Big TV is targeting 40 per cent market share within a span of one year. It will offer a bouquet of 202 channels with digital quality picture and sound.

Currently, DTH accounts for only 4 per cent in Indian market compared to 95 per cent analogue cable services. “The huge potential of a quality and value offering in the home entertainment service market offers us a unique opportunity to tap the strengths and synergies of telecommunications and entertainment sectors embedded within Reliance ADA Group.

With the launch of BIG TV DTH, we aim to accelerate the growth momentum enhancing value of many million shareholders of Reliance Communications,” Chairman of Reliance ADA Group, Anil Ambani, was quoted as saying in a release. The upfront charges of BIG TV services would be between Rs 1,490 and Rs 3,990 (plus installation charges) depending on the scheme a subscriber opts for.

To create its customers base, Reliance ADA is planning a huge ad campaign across the nation to promote BIG TV. At the same time, it will tap its existing 61 million customer base in India (in different business verticals). The company has 2,000 plus stores in India to offer subscription. Besides, it has 500 plus channel partners to disseminate product information.

It is the largest home entertainment service rollout in India, which is available in over one lakh outlets across 6500 towns, says a release by the company. According to Sanjay Behl, group head – brand & marketing, Reliance Communications, BIG TV is based on four pillars. “It is magnanimous in nature. It brings some surprise offers in terms of subscription. We want to make it contagious so that the product gains ground through people to people talks.

Finally, we have made it extraordinary by introducing certain advanced technology in it,” claimed Behl. Some unique features of Big TV includes ‘subscription video on demand’ on 50 channels, adaptability to any tv set, more than 30 exclusive movie channels. Added Arun Kapoor, CEO, Reliance Big TV, “through BIG TV, your favourit programme can get recorded even when you are not at home and your TV set is not switched on. Till date, this system is existing in US. Reliance Big TV is planning to add more features into it. Tuesday on NSE, Reliance Communications stock ended at Rs 399.80, down by 3.06 per cent from the previous close