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20110115

Jammu and Kashmir government will have to deal with BJP plans to hoist the tricolour

Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government will have to deal with Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) plans to hoist the tricolour at Srinagar's Lal Chowk on Jan 26 and its consequences on its own though the central government has promised to help in whatever way possible.The central government, according to official sources, has told the Omar Abdullah government to devise its own strategy to deal with the situation arising out of BJP's Rashtriya Ekta Yatra or national unity march that is expected to reach Srinagar on Republic Day."The centre will help the state in whatever it may want to, but the overall situation would have to be dealt with by the state government only," a top official told the media.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is trying to consolidate the situation in Kashmir that is returning to normalcy after the summer unrest claimed 112 lives, is against BJP's march to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk.

Abdullah has voiced serious reservations over the issue and fears that BJP's move would cause "serious trouble" in the Kashmir Valley.

He had earlier warned that the "BJP alone would be responsible for the consequences".

Separatists in the valley have expressed strong opposition to the plan. The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat Conference have also called for a "march to Lal Chowk" on the same day.

JKLF chairman Yasin Malik has threatened to stall BJP activists from hoisting the national flag, but the BJP has declared that it would go ahead with its plans.

The government, according to official sources, is mulling "very tough action" against the BJP activists as it does not want anything to disrupt peace in the valley.

BJP's Rashtriya Ekta Yatra started from Kolkata on Wednesday and its activists led by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha president Anurag Thakur want to hoist the national flag in Lal Chowk on Jan 26.
source:agency
Tags : India Politics News, Kashmir News, Jammu and Kashmir Government, BJP's March to Srinagar, BJP's March to Lal Chowk

UPA examining the possibility of moving a breach of privilege motion against the CAG

New Delhi: Members of Parliament from the ruling coalition are examining the possibility of moving a breach of privilege motion against the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for stating that comments about a matter being considered by a parliamentary committee may amount to contempt of the House, sources in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) said. "Sections of the ruling coalition are examining the possibility of breach of privilege over the statement of CAG," a UPA leader said here in response to queries about a press release by the CAG that had been criticised by the Congress.

The Congress on Thursday objected to the CAG's statement about the possibility of contempt for comments made about a matter being considered by a parliamentary committee and alleged that the auditor's report on 2G spectrum controversy got "leaked" before being presented in parliament.

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan had alleged that the official auditor appeared to be applying different yardsticks to the comments made on its report about the 2G spectrum scam.

She said CAG had issued a press release on Jan 12 in which it referred to rules which prohibit any MP from making comments when a matter is being looked into by a parliamentary committee.

Expressing her "surprise and distress" at the CAG's statement, Natarajan, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, said that, subject to correction, she could not find any such rule.
source:agency
Tags : India Politics News, United Progressive Alliance, Breach of Privilege Motion against CAG, Auditor's report on 2G Spectrum

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi will visit Sabarimala stampede site

Vandiperiyar (Kerala): Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi will today visit the site of the stampede where 102 Sabarimala pilgrims died, party leaders said.

According to state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala, Gandhi, who is currently in the state on a private visit to attend the marriage of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's additional private secretary R.Gopalakrishnan's daughter at Alappuzha on Saturday, will reach the stampede site today morning.

The stampede occurred on Friday night at Pulumedu near Vandiperiyar town where about a lakh of pilgrims had gathered to watch the revered Makara Jyothi light on the Sabarimala hills.

Gandhi will be accompanied by Chennithala and state Youth Congress president P.C.Vishnunadh.
source:agency
Tags : Kerala News, Sabarimala Stampede, Rahul Gandhi Sabarimala Visit

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) against increased price of petrol

New Delhi: The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) today termed the decision to increase the price of petrol as a "cruel blow" and said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was riding roughshod over the interests of the people.

In a statement, the party politburo said the decision to hike prices was a cruel blow and makes mockery of all the assurances given by the government to reduce price rise.

"The decision to increase the price of petrol by Rs.2.52 per litre shows how the UPA government is riding roughshod over the interests of the people. Just a few weeks ago the price of petrol was hiked by Rs.2.96 per litre. By this hike, the price has gone up by over Rs.5.50 per litre," the statement said.

It said that the party will launch protests against the "callous hike".

"This cruel blow makes a mockery of all the assurances of the government to take steps to curb price rise. The people of this country will not take such burdens on them quietly," the statement said.

Sources said that state oil companies will raise price of petrol between Rs.2.50-2.54 per litre from today midnight.
source:agency
Tags : Communist Party of India-Marxist, price of petrol, United Progressive Alliance, UPA government

China's policy towards India betrays a deep-rooted hostility:Admiral (retd) Arun Prakash

Kolkata: China's policy towards India betrays a deep-rooted hostility, said a retired chief of the Indian Navy today.

"There is a competition for strategic space between India and China, with the latter giving moral support to Pakistan, opposing a permanent seat for India in the United Nations Security Council and reiterating its claim on Arunachal Pradesh. Thus, there exists a deep-rooted hostility towards India," said Admiral (retd) Arun Prakash.

Delivering a lecture on "The Challenge of China's Growing Maritime Power", Prakash said the balance in Indo-China bilateral trade was tilted in favour of China.

"In fact, trade can become a Trojan horse. India's export of raw materials to China is less, while the latter is flooding the Indian market with its finished products," he said.

He said the neighbouring country was playing down its defence allocation and keeping its military expansion opaque.

However, Prakash said if China continued to threaten India from the northeast, "we can reciprocate from the Indian Ocean".
source:agency
Tags : China's policy towards India, chief of the Indian Navy, seat for India in the United Nations Security Council

Taken a "huge risk" by doing romantic comedy "Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji":Madhur Bhandarkar

Mumbai: It's not easy to come out of your comfort zone and helm a film in a completely new genre. But Madhur Bhandarkar has done just that and admits that he's taken a "huge risk" by doing romantic comedy "Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji" instead of his trademark movies on contemporary issues.

"I've taken a huge risk with this film, but I feel proud of it. I'm sure people will appreciate (it). They have given me love and liked my work all these years," Bhandarkar told the media in an interview.

"Some didn't even do well at the box office, but they were critically acclaimed and got the respect they needed. So I'm sure they (audiences) will shower the same love for 'Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji' because when they see the film they will feel Madhur Bhandarkar's stamp and signature style is very evident in the film. It is very much in my parameters," the National Award winning director said.

After being a part of the industry for a decade and making path-breaking films like "Chandni Bar", "Satta", "Page 3" and "Fashion" among others, Bhandarkar said some of his colleagues had suggested that he try his hand at comedy as well.

"People who know me closely always thought that I have a good sense of humour...in fact all the people I've worked with said 'why don't you make a comedy'. Even during 'Chandni Bar' days, Tabu used to tell me to foray into comedy.

"I always felt that one day I will do it, but then there were so many other subjects that were intriguing and I got busy with that, so I didn't have time...but after 'Jail' I thought that now I should make a comedy," said the 42-year-old.

The film, slated to hit screens on Jan 26, stars Ajay Devgn, Omi Vaidya and Emraan Hashmi in the lead. And it revolves around the different experiences that these three men go through in love.

While the film is from men's point of view, actresses Shruti Hassan, Shraddha Das and Shahzan Padamsee play pivotal roles.

But what made Bhandakar, whose cinema is usually women-oriented, shift his focus to men this time?

"I never plan a film gender-based. I wanted to make this film so I did and there are women characters in this film too with very well etched out roles, but definitely it is dominated by male point of view. Let's see if people realise that Madhur can give a very good male point of view as well," the filmmaker said.

"Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji" has a tagline that reads "Love grows...but men don't". Does Bhandarkar agree with this statement?

"I believe in this totally because I feel the same way," he quipped.

"I still have a childlike innocence and same is the case with a lot of people I know. You do grow and become mature but somewhere in your mind you are still a kid. In fact this holds a meaning for a lot of girls as well," Bhandarkar said.
source:agency
Tags : India Entertainment News, Bollywood, Madhur Bhandarkar's Movies on Contemporary Issues, Madhur Bhandarkar on Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji, Ajay Devgn in Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji

Awards are mostly offered to undeserving candidates:Bollywood Actress Kareena Kapoor

Mumbai: Actress Kareena Kapoor says she prefers to be on holiday with friends and in Switzerland during the award season here as awards don't matter much to her since they are mostly offered to undeserving candidates.

"Awards doesn't matter much to me. Lot of award functions requested me to attend them but I chose to go to Switzerland because that's the only time in the year that I get to spend with my family and loved ones," Kareena told reporters after the launch of her dietician Rujuta Diwekar's book "Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha" at Taj Lands End Hotel here on Saturday.

Asked if she believes that the awards are rigged, she said: "I am not sure but it's seems so because who don't attend, their names are never declared in award ceremonies. Those who don't deserve, they get the awards and those who deserve, they land up enjoying pizzas at home."

Kareena has written a chapter in Rujuta's book on her request.

"When Rujuta asked me to write something for her book, first I thought that I am not a professional writer, but then why don't I just write something so that when readers read it, they get to know more about Kareena Kapoor. What is her basic, genuine kind of nature comes out across from the chapter because I have written it straight from the heart," she said.

Kareena is set to start shooting for "Bodyguard" today where she plays the female lead opposite Salman Khan.

"Tomorrow (Sunday) I am going to start shooting ‘Bodyguard'. It's a remake of a South Indian film. I think there the girl's character is very performance oriented so they approached me," said Kareena.
source:agency
Tags : India Entertainment News, Bollywood News, Kareena Kapoor in Switzerland, Kareena Kapoor in Award Ceremonies

Madhur Bhandarkar's movie "Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji" to be released on Republic Day

New Delhi: Realistic film maker Madhur Bhandarkar today confirmed that the release date of his first comedy "Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji" has been brought forward to Jan 26 from Jan 28.

"'Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji' - the film was slated for release on Friday, Jan 28, but Wednesday, Jan 26 is Republic Day, so film's release preponed by two days," the National Award winning director confirmed on micro-blogging site Twitter.

"Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji" is about how life changes for three men with the entry of three women.

The movie stars Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Omi Vaidya, Shruti Hassan, Shraddha Das and Shazahn Padamsee.

In the film, Ajay will be seen playing a man in his mid-30s going through a divorce, when a much younger girl comes into his life and he starts changing himself.

Bhandarkar has earlier made serious women-oriented films like "Chandni Bar", "Page 3", "Corporate" and "Fashion".
source:agency
Tags : India Entertainment News, Bollywood, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji Release Date, Ajay Devgn in Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji

I feel strongly about providing a platform to talent from small towns:Mallika Sherawat

Mumbai: Bold and beautiful Mallika Sherawat says most of her films are for adults and so she turned to television as it would help her connect with those below 18. She also feels strongly about providing a platform to talent from small towns.

Mallika is scorching the small screen as a judge on dance reality show "Chak Dhoom Dhoom".

"TV has a huge reach and my films as it is are only for people above the age of 18. So I thought it's a great opportunity. Who's going to wait for them to turn 18 and then watch my films?" Mallika told IANS in an interview here.

"And also why not try something different. I've always tried different things in my career. If everyone's gone left, I've gone right. I've made very unusual choices and some worked, some didn't. But I've not followed a prescribed path. And similarly this time too," said Mallika, who is a huge fan of Madhuri Dixit.

The show, which showcases dance groups from all over the world, went on air on Colors channel on Friday.

"My life's struggle has been the same since I had no film background and Bollywood's system is very dynastic - people just want to promote their own people. So it was very important for me that people from small towns get a platform to showcase their talent. I felt an emotional connect with the show," said the actress.

"I feel I owe it to people from small towns because once upon a time I was one of them. Of course, I'm being paid very handsomely for this show, but that was not the deciding factor," added the actor who herself hails from Rohtak, a small town in Haryana.

She also says she will be a little biased towards women contestants. "I'll be a little biased towards females. I'm being honest enough to say that."

The actress, known for her sensual roles in films like "Khwahish", "Murder" and the recently released "Hisss", is judging the show along with actor-comedian Jaaved Jaaferi and ace choreographer Terence Lewis, known for his contemporary dance moves.

"I won't judge the technical aspects of dance. For me, the entertainment factor and the X factor will work. The attitude, the expressions are what I'll be concentrating on.

"I had a lot of disagreements with Jaaved and Terrence because they go so deep in their judging. Both of them are brilliant dancers, but I don't go into so many technicalities and sometimes I even fight for the teams and argue that they should be given a chance," she added.

Asked why she decided to take a plunge into television, the actress said: "For me, the most important thing for saying yes to this show was the format. These people go to small towns and audition and bring out talents from there.

On the film front, Mallika will be next seen in "Double Dhamaal", the sequel to 2007 film "Dhamaal".
source:agency
Tags : India Entertainment News, Mallika Sherawat Films, Mallika Sherawat on Chak Dhoom Dhoom

National Aluminium Company Ltd (Nalco) & Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IREL) to set up a titanium plant in Orissa

Bhubaneswar: Two public sector companies, the National Aluminium Company Ltd (Nalco) and Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IREL), have signed a pact to set up a titanium plant at an estimated cost of Rs.400 crore in Orissa's Ganjam district, a senior Nalco official said today.

Nalco's director (finance) B.L. Bagra said Nalco and IREL will have 49 and 51 percent stake respectively in the project planned at Chhatrapur, about 157 km from Bhubaneswar to make value-added products from beach sand minerals, which would subsequently be used for making titanium and allied products.

He said both the companies will establish a joint venture company soon. "The new company will buy ilmenite, the basic raw materials from IREL at market price," Bagra told the media, adding that the construction of the plant should start in one year.

Titanium has a strategic importance for the country and is a key material used in space, aviation, nuclear, automobile, and paint industries, a statement said.

There being no production of the mineral in the country, the need is met by imports. On the other hand, beach sand - the basic raw material for production of titanium - is available in huge quantities with IREL and is exported without value-addition, it said.

The development of these value-added products will be an important step towards import substitute for the country, the statement added.
source:agency
Tags : public sector companies, National Aluminium Company Ltd, Nalco in Orissa, Indian Rare Earths Ltd, titanium plant in Orissa's Ganjam district, senior Nalco official

Infrastructure conglomerate Jaiprakash Associates Ltd to invest Rs.33,000 crore in Gujarat

New Delhi: Infrastructure conglomerate Jaiprakash Associates Ltd today said it has committed Rs.30,000 crore for investment in the western state of Gujarat over the next 3 to 5 years.

According to the company, the mega investment in the state comes as it signed six MoUs (memorandum of understanding) at the recently held 'Vibrant Gujarat' investors meet.

"These MoUs represent our continuing commitment to the development of Gujarat and creating thousands of new employment opportunities for the people," said Manoj Gaur, group executive chairman, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd.

The planed investment includes setting up of an alumina plant for Rs.14,000 crore, one thermal power plant and grinding unit for Rs.6,000 crore, development and mining of a coal block worth Rs.8,000 crore, development of two jetties at Rs.1,000 crore and expansion of its cement plants production capacity for Rs.4,000 crore.

The company said that the projects are slated for Gujarat's Kutch region, where it has already invested over Rs.6,000 crore in a greenfield cement plant. The plant's current capacity of 2.4 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) would be increased to 4.8 MTPA.

The two-day Vibrant Gujarat Summit concluded today at Gandhinagar. The state attracted commitments worth $462 billion through 7,936 pacts with a potential for 5.2 million jobs.
source:agency
Tags : India Business News, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd Investment in Gujarat, Development of Gujarat, Employment Opportunities in Gujarat

India's foreign exchange (forex) reserves declined by $3.32 billion

Mumbai: India's foreign exchange (forex) reserves declined by $3.32 billion to $294.01 billion for the week ended on Jan 7 mainly due to the slump in the value of foreign currency assets.

The foreign currency assets, the biggest component of the forex reserves kitty, fell by $3.25 billion to $264.56 billion during the week under review, according to the weekly statistical supplement of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as British pound sterling, euro and Japanese yen held in reserves.

The value of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) declined by $50 million to $5.02 billion and reserves with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fell by $19 million to $1.95 billion.

However, the value of gold reserves remained unchanged at $22.47 billion during the first week of 2011.
source:agency
Tags : India Business News, India's Foreign Exchange Reserves, Value of foreign Currency Assets

Organisers of Asian Cup already saying it has been a success

Doha: Although just over a week has been played at the Asian Cup, organisers are already saying it has been a success.

The competitions director of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Tokuaki Suzuki, told the media that they were very pleased.

"We are very satisfied with the standard of the performance of the teams. Most of the matches have been very exciting and the teams have used positive play."

"The spectators love Asian football and the atmosphere in the stadiums has been good."

"Sometimes we still need more spectators, but generally speaking we are very happy with the atmosphere of the spectators in the stadium."

"In terms of the match organization on the pitch I think it is almost perfect. It is very well controlled in terms of kick-off times. In fact, all the match organization is very, very good," he said.

Suzuki said that organisers had set themselves the goal of hosting the best-ever Asian Cup. "Our target is not only an excellent competition in terms of the Asian level, we are looking at the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League and Euro level.

"We want to do it on the same level as FIFA and UEFA and we believe we can achieve that."

He said that even though the standard of play has been very high, that was one of the aspects, where there was room for improvement.

"The Asian level is not in the top level in the world. It is in the middle, but with teams like Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia and the other countries we have potential."

"We need to improve our technical standard, but we believe we can make it."

Suzuki said the organisers had noted the special effort Qatar was making with security. "There have been proper security arrangements, sometimes they are very strict, but we have to make sure that everybody is protected."

The oil-rich Gulf country will be hosting the 2022 World Cup and Suzuki believes the Asian Cup is ideal to test the waters for the World Cup.

"Organisation-wise I think they are ready but in terms of other things, including the spectators, there needs to be improvements. But we have the time and they will be ready for the World Cup 2022."

"I think it has been a successful trial run and it is definitely a good competition for the Qataris to learn about international competitions."

"We need to improve a lot, but we have the confidence to do it. Some of the concerns are that we need to have the facilities that are in line with FIFA regulations and then there needs to be enthusiasm from the fans.

"Possibly we need more hotels, but I am confident that everything will be in place for the World Cup in 2022."
source:agency
Tags : Asian Cup Organisers, Asian Football Confederation, Tokuaki Suzuki

India won 2nd One-Day International cricket match against South Africa

Johannesburg: Indian bowlers staged a remarkable comeback to snatch a thrilling one-run victory against South Africa in the gripping second One-Day International cricket match here.

South Africa, after bowling out India for 190 runs, were cruising to victory with captain Graeme Smith (77) leading the charge.

But Indian pacers, Munaf Patel (4-29) and Zaheer Khan (2-37), triggered a sensational collapse after Smith's fall to bowl out the hosts for 189 in 43 overs.

Man-of-the-match Munaf was given the new ball in place of Ashish Nehra and he justified the decision with a wicket in the first over, dismissing Hashim Amla caught behind with a beautiful seaming delivery.

Smith and Colin Ingram then added 59 runs before Harbhajan Singh trapped Ingram leg before wicket.

A.B. de Villiers (8) fell to Ashish Nehra (1-44) and J.P. Duminy, after raising 43 runs with Smith, was caught in the deep by Murali Vijay off Rohit Sharma.

India then bowled a steady line and choked the South African batsmen, not giving away easy runs.

When Smith was bowled inside out by Munaf with the score reading 152/5, India sniffed a chance and went all out to level the series.

Zaheer and Munaf bowled brilliant spells, turning up the heat on the lower order and taking wickets to keep the pressure.

Zaheer removed David Miller (27) and Johan Botha (4) while Munaf accounted for Wayne Parnell (12) and Morne Morkel in one over.

South Africa needed 12 runs with two wickets in hand when Dale Steyn was run out in the 39th over. Morkel hit straight to Yusuf Pathan at short cover and four balls later Parnell found Yuvraj Singh at point, sparking jubilition among the Indian players.

India thus levelled the five-match series after their loss in Durban.

Earlier, South African pacer Lonwabo Tsotsobe (4-22) registered his best ODI figure, running down the Indian line-up.

Indian batsmen again came a cropper against a disciplined South African pace attack and folded up in 47.2 overs.

Yuvraj (53) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (38) shared an 83-run stand, but after the stylish left-hander was dismissed by Tsotsobe, it was a march down to the pavilion. The last seven wickets fell for 40 runs.
source:agency
Tags : India Sports News, India Cricket News, India South Africa One Day International, India South Africa Cricket, Indian Bowlers

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to launch programmes in catering, culinary arts

New Delhi: The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)is all set to launch a host of degree and diploma programmes in catering, culinary arts, and food production, a varsity official said today.

The courses will be offered by the university's upcoming Institute of Culinary Arts and aspirants can enroll either in three years degree course in culinary arts, culinary management and catering technology or one year diploma courses in food production and patisserie as well as food processing.

"There is a wide spectrum of courses waiting to be launched once the institute starts its functioning soon. Additional courses will be added every year," added the official.

The university also plans to come up with eight new certificate courses which would last for a week, targeted mainly for housewives. A Master in Culinary Administration (MCA) course would also be launched soon on the lines of Masters of Business Administration.

"A doctorate course in culinary management will also be available to interested candidates involving strategic courses to take Indian cuisine to greater commercial levels of excellence. An entrepreneurial course would offer self-employment opportunities to many students," added the official.
source:agency
Tags : India Education News, Catering Courses in IGNOU, Culinary Courses in IGNOU

UP Chief Minister Mayawati announced some 600 new projects on her 55th birthday

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati announced some 600 new projects and welfare schemes worth Rs.4,000 crore on her 55th birthday today.

She also chose to give a new name - "Jan Kalyankari Diwas" (public welfare day) - to her birthday that she used to earlier term as "Arthik Sahyog Diwas" (financial support day).

While her birthday was observed in each of the 72 districts of the state, the mega event at the newly constructed state-of-the-art Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar convention centre in the vicinity of Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University here was presided over by her.

Attired in her birthday favourite pink silk brocade "salwar-kurta" and wearing her big, dazzling diamonds, she made it a point to hit out at those who may criticise her for the opulence and extravagance.

"I am aware that some people would only focus their attention on my jewellery or my family members who have arrived here to join me on this occasion today, but I don't care about them as my mission on this day is to do as much as I can for the good and well being of the poor and the needy," Mayawati said in her 25-minute address.

While the projects announced by her included a number of roads, bridges and other infrastructure-related works, she laid special emphasis on dedicating the recently renovated Hazratganj - Lucknow's main shopping street - to the people.

"The makeover of Hazratganj was carried out as part of completion of its 200 years and I am glad to dedicate it to the people of the city today," she told the gathering.

"I have decided to take up several other development projects in other cities which have remained neglected in the previous regimes," she claimed.

Besides increasing the monthly pension to the poor and widows from Rs.300 to Rs.400, she also announced a hike of 10 percent in dearness allowance to all state pensioners.

Referring to an ordinance she issued for bringing in a new law for fixing accountability of all government officials under the "Janhit Guarantee Kanoon" (public welfare guarantee law), she said: "With a view to making lax government functionaries accountable to the people, I have decided to fix a time frame for various tasks."

"If any official fails to deliver within the prescribed time frame, he would be liable to be penalized," she said.

A new mobile hospital facility was also introduced under the banner of Mahamaya Sachal Hospital Scheme.

In a governance-oriented exercise, she proposed setting up village-level "mini-secretariats" at all places with a population of more than 5,000.

"These mini-secretariats would have government functionaries of various departments to sort out issues for which people have to run from pillar to post and even come down all the way to Lucknow," she pointed out.

Mayawati also ordered release of 574 undertrials who were languishing in jails because they did not have the resources to seek bail in cases of petty crimes.
source:agency
Tags : Uttar Pradesh News, Mayawati, Uttar Pradesh Government, Uttar Pradesh Welfare Schemes

Delhi court awarded life term to 6 HuJI terrorists for plotting to kidnap Sachin Tendulkar & Sourav Ganguly

New Delhi: A Delhi court today awarded life term to six Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) terrorists, including three Pakistanis, for plotting to kidnap cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly in 2002.

Additional Sessions Judge Pinki (one name) sentenced all the six convicts to rigorous life imprisonment under the stringent Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) saying the punishment "must send a clear message that India is not nor will it become a safe haven for terrorists".

The court accepted the prosecution's plea to award the maximum punishment to them under the POTA.

The accused had also planned to attack Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai and assassinate the then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2002.

"Terrorism is a unique crime. It has no equals. Terrorism anywhere is a threat to peace," the court said.

"It is far more insidious as it attacks our values of life and seeks to destroy the fundamentals to which we are committed," the court said in its order on the quantum of sentence.

While pleading for a lenient view, the HuJI terrorists contended that the Delhi High Court had reduced the jail term of three of their associates, who pleaded guilty earlier, to eight years.

The court, however, rejected the plea and awarded the maximum punishment for the crime prescribed under the POTA and other penal statutes.

"There is no evidence that these convicts are remorseful for their conduct that was illegal and potentially lethal nor is there any possibility of their rehabilitation," the court said.

The court had on Dec 24, held all the six men guilty under various provisions of the POTA and other penal provisions.

The convicts from Pakistan are Tariq Mohammed, Arshad Khan and Ashfaq Ahmed. Three Indians -- Mufti Israr, Ghulam Qadir Bhatt and Ghulam Mohd Dar -- were also held guilty.

"The convicts wanted to secure the release of two HuJI terrorists Nasarullah Langrial and Abdul Rahim who were then lodged in different jails here," the police said.

The prosecution said that Rahim was an associate of Asif Raza Khan, an aide of Umar Sheikh who was released by the Indian government, along with others, in return for the release of passengers of an hijacked Indian Airlines plane in Afghanistan in 1999.

The convicts faced trial for offences of collecting arms with the intention of waging war against the nation and conspiring to commit offences against the state.

Besides the POTA, the accused were charged under the Arms Act and the three Pakistanis were also tried under the Foreigners Act.

The prosecution had relied on e-mail exchanges of the accused with their Pakistan-based handlers to drive home the charges in the case.

Defence lawyer M.S. Khan rebutted the prosecution claim saying the alleged e-mails were forged as most of the accused were in custody during the period when the e-mails were exchanged.

Initially, police arrested 10 HuJI militants, including six Pakistanis, in 2002. Out of them, three Pakistanis -- Mohammed Amran, Abdul Majeed and Mohammed Ashraf -- pleaded guilty in 2003 and were awarded eight years jail term for their varying roles, besides the fine.

Jalaluddin, who was termed as the mastermind, managed to escape from police custody during the probe and was later declared a proclaimed offender by the court.
source:agency
Tags : India News, Life Term to HuJI Terrorists, Plot to Kidnap Sachin Tendulkar, Plot to Kidnap Sourav Ganguly

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit interacted with legislators on developmental issues

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today interacted with legislators from all constituencies in the capital on developmental issues.

There was a consensus in the meeting to rename slum colonies. A number of legislators demanded reorganization of ration circles. Some legislators demanded extension of Metro routes.

Dikshit appreciated that the legislators gave their suggestions, views and highlighted problems.

"The exercise will prove to be helpful in ensuring a people-friendly approach while implementing various schemes of the government," Dikshit said.

As part of the on-going process, she interacted with legislators from Chandni Chowk and South Delhi parliamentary constituencies in two separate marathon meetings held at Delhi Secretariat.

Union Human Resource Development Minister and Chandni Chowk MP Kapil Sibal and South Delhi MP Ramesh Kumar were also present in the meetings presided over by the chief minister.

All Delhi ministers, legislators, top officials and Municipal Corporation of Delhi commissioner were present along with their officers.

Sibal stressed upon the need of long term planning to systematically relocate wholesale trade from the old city, replacing hanging electricity wire with underground cables, development of slum clusters and removing obstacles coming in the way of construction of the Azadpur flyover.
source:agency
Tags : Delhi News, Sheila Dikshit on Developmental Issues, Municipal Corporation of Delhi

Boxer Vijender Singh's next aim is to be in tinsel town

New Delhi: He has done advertisements, featured on chat shows, walked the ramp and has endorsed several products. Now, boxer Vijender Singh's next aim is to be in tinsel town.

"I have no restrictions or limitations as long as I can manage my profession along with it. I am open to all such offers," the Olympic bronze medal winning boxer said.
source:agency
Tags : Entertainment News, Bollywood celebrities, Bollywood films

Hackers,hacked a website dedicated to Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan

Hackers, owing allegiance to stone-pelters in Kashmir, have hacked a website dedicated to Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

The group calling itself Cyber Sangbaaz (Stonepelters) Force hacked the website www.amitabhbachchanonline.com and posted a controversial video and audio message on it.

It is for the first time that a website has been hacked by a group claiming to support the stone-pelters in Kashmir.
source:agency

Tags:Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan,Bollywood news India,www.amitabhbachchanonline.com,website hacking,cyber crime

20110114

Toll in the stampede near Kerala's famed Sabarimala temple climbed to 104

Vandiperiyar/Kumily (Kerala): The toll in the stampede near Kerala's famed Sabarimala temple climbed to 104 today as more bodies and the injured continued to be brought to hospitals in the area. The stampede occurred around 8.00 p.m. on Friday when the pilgrims were returning after watching the celestial Makara Jyothi light, the most important event of the pilgrimage, from a hillock some 30 km from the Sabarimala temple. The tragedy took place in Pulumedu, a forested area about 10 km from the Vandiperiyar town, and about 30 km from the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta district. At least 60 people have sustained injuries.

Most of the bodies and the injured have been brought to the Kumily government hospital.

State Finance Minister Thomas Isaac reached the hospital in the morning and said that the state government will meet the expenses for treating the injured even if they have been admitted to private hospitals in Idukki and Kottayam districts.

"A thorough investigation will be done and the state government will meet all the expenses for transporting the bodies to their homes. As the first step, a sum of Rs.5,000 to the injured has been sanctioned," said Isaac.

The bodies were first brought to the Vandiperiyar government hospital and from there it was moved to the hospital in Kumily.

"Around 43 bodies have been identified so far and a majority of the dead are from nearby states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka," said senior Congress leader E.M. Augusthy.
source:agency
Tags : Kerala News, Sabarimala Stampede, Toll in Stampede near Sabarimala

US officials say the Barack Obama trip to India resulted in a great leap in their economic ties

Washington: Describing US President Barack Obama's November trip to India as a full "embrace" of India as a great power and partner, US officials say the trip resulted in a great leap in their economic ties.

It "...was an extraordinary trip, to India, where we fully embraced India's rise as a great power and a great partner for the United States," Obama's National Security Advisor Tom Donilon told reporters on Friday ahead of next week's state visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The US engagement with both India and China was part of Obama administration's Asia policy "to get great power relationships right, with positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationships, as we are seeking with China, with great powers."

One piece of the US effort in Asia "is to engage rising countries in Asia, and that was on display I think in our work on the India-Indonesia trip. We really have deepened these relationships," Donilonn said.

Making a distinction between Hu's Washington visit and Obama's New Delhi trip, he said: "The visit to India was the first visit by an American President to India since 2006, since March of 2006."

"There was an effort there where we were really trying to make really kind of a step function increase in the quality of the relationship and had a different set-it just had a different strategic dynamic to it.

"Also, the-three days there in India, again, trying to build out each of the aspects of the relationship. It was a different project," Donilonn said.

"Obviously, the commercial and economic relationship between those two countries is obviously fundamentally different," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs added.

"And the investment that we saw in American companies represented a fairly decent-size leap in the type of economic relationship that we've had with the Indians in trying to put that on a bigger playing field in terms of its citizens."

Meanwhile, in a follow up to the Obama visit, 24 US businesses including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE Hitachi, Westinghouse are embarking on a mission to India to pitch their high tech ware from civil-nuclear to defence and civil aviation.

Leading the Feb 6-11 business development mission to India will be US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke who accompanied Obama to India in November.

More than $10 billion in business deals between US companies and Indian private sector and government entities, supporting 50,000 American jobs were signed during the Obama visit.

Besides the aviation and nuclear power majors, other businesses joining the trade mission are based in 13 states across the country and more than half of them are small- and medium-sized companies, the US commerce department announced on Friday.

The delegation, which also includes senior officials from the Export-Import Bank (EX-IM) and the Trade Development Agency (TDA), will make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

During the trip Locke will highlight export opportunities for US businesses in the advanced industrial sectors, of civil-nuclear trade, defence and security, civil aviation, and information and communication technologies.
source:agency
Tags : India News, Barack Obama's India Trip, India US Economic Ties

Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh said it "was not desirable" to use the armed forces in anti-Maoist operations

New Delhi: Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh has said it "was not desirable" to use the armed forces in anti-Maoist operations as the Left-wing rebellion is being viewed "as a law and order and socio-economic problem".

"We have held this as a belief, which even the Defence Minister (A.K. Antony) gave out, that the Left-wing extremism or the Maoist problem is more of a law and order and socio-economic problem to be handled by the local police forces and the central police forces. Army's moving into this was not desirable," Singh told All India Radio in an interview with senior journalist Kalyani Shankar.

Gen. Singh said the army was providing assistance in training the police forces, the central police forces and the paramilitary forces.

He said the army has offered names of people who can be advisors with the various states and guide them on how things can be done.

"Retired officers basically and as I look at it, I think the whole situation can be tackled by these forces very well. However, in the long term, if something happens and if the government wants the army, well, we will accordingly gear ourselves for that particular task," he said.
source:agency
Tags : Naxalism, India Defence News, Indian Army, Armed Forces in Anti Maoist Operations, VK Singh

Kerala declared 3 days of mourning,for stampede near Kerala's famed Sabarimala temple

Vandiperiyar/Kumily (Kerala): Kerala declared three days of mourning as the toll in the stampede near Kerala's famed Sabarimala temple climbed to 104 today with more bodies being brought to hospitals. More than 60 people are injured.

The bodies were first brought to the Vandiperiyar government hospital and from there it was moved to the government hospital in Kumily in Idukki district, nearly 15 km from the accident site, where a team of 60 doctors busied themselves in conducting autopsies. Several grieving devotees tried to identify their near and dear ones among the dead.

The stampede occurred around 8.00 p.m. on Friday when the pilgrims were returning after watching the celestial Makara Jyothi light, the most important event of the pilgrimage, from a hillock some 30 km from the Sabarimala temple, when a jeep lost control and rammed into the devotees. This created panic, leading to the stampede.

The tragedy took place in Pulumedu, a forested area about 10 km from the Vandiperiyar town, and about 30 km from the Sabarimala temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in Pathanamthitta district.

One Sri Lankan is among those killed, while 18 are from Tamil Nadu, 12 hail from Karnataka, six from Andhra Pradesh and three belong to Kerala, hospital oficial said.

The sighting of the Makara Jyothi celestial flame on the horizon marks the finale of the three-month-long pilgrim season at the mountain shrine.

Most of the bodies and the injured have been brought to the Kumily government hospital.

State Finance Minister Thomas Isaac reached the hospital in the morning and said that the state government will meet the expenses for treating the injured even if they have been admitted to private hospitals in Idukki and Kottayam districts.

"A thorough investigation will be done and the state government will meet all the expenses for transporting the bodies to their homes. As the first step, a sum of Rs.5,000 to the injured has been sanctioned," said Isaac.

"We are told the gruesome accident took place around 8.00 p.m. at Pulumedu. The entire place was full of vehicles and more than a lakh of pilgrims were returning from a hillock after seeing the celestial light that appeared on the horizon soon after 7 p.m.," Issac said.

"Suddenly a jeep that broke down lost control and rammed into the waiting pilgrims. This created panic, leading to the stampede," said Thomas.

Idukki Congress MP P.T. Thomas said 71 bodies have so far reached the Vandiperiyar hospital, where all the bodies are being brought after which their autopsy is being conducted at Kumily.

Said senior Congress leader E.M. Augusthy: "Around 43 bodies have been identified so far and a majority of the dead are from nearby states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka."

Leader of opposition Oommen Chandy also visited the Vandiperiyar hospital and called for a detailed probe into the tragedy and its cause.

Calling it a national tragedy, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said he had directed the defence forces to see that all the help be provided.

The Sabarimala temple is in the state's Pathanamthitta district, situated on the Western Ghat ranges at an altitude of 914 metres above the sea level, four kilometres uphill from the river Pampa.

Pamba, the base camp to the Sabarimala temple, has been overflowing with pilgrims since the past few days.
source:agency
Tags : Kerala News, Mourning in Kerala, Sabarimala Stampede

Pratibha Patil,Manmohan Singh condoled the deaths of over 100 people in a stampede near Kerala's Sabarimala temple

New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today condoled the deaths of over 100 people in a stampede near Kerala's Sabarimala temple. The prime minister has sanctioned Rs.1 lakh as compensation to the kin of the dead and Rs.50,000 for those injured.

President Patil, in letters to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Governor R.S. Gavai, conveyed her condolences and wished speedy recovery to those injured in the tragedy on Friday night at Pulumedu, a forested area about 30 km from the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta district.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Achuthanandan today morning to convey his grief. He also sanctioned a relief of Rs.1 lakh each to the kin of those killed and Rs.50,000 for the injured from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund, PMO sources said.

At least 104 people were killed in the stampede that occurred around 8.00 p.m. on Friday when the pilgrims were returning after watching the celestial Makara Jyothi light, the most important event of the three-month pilgrimage, from a hillock some 30 km from the Sabarimala temple.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony told a TV channel that his ministry has assured full support for the rescue operations.

"I have told my ministry to extend total support to the Kerala government," Antony said.

"This is a human tragedy...usually (on) Makar Sankranti, lakhs come to the temple. No one expected something like this to happen," he said.
source:agency
Tags : Pratibha Patil, Manmohan Singh, Sabarimala Stampede, Deaths in Sabarimala Stampede

J&K CM Omar Abdullah welcomed the central government's move to reduce the security forces in the state

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday welcomed the central government's move to reduce the security forces in the state by 25 percent, saying it will help to consolidate the improving ground condition. A quarter of the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir will be cut in the next 12 months, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said on Friday in what was seen as a major confidence-building measure towards the people of the conflict-scarred state as well as Pakistan.

"It is not going to be an overnight reduction.... obviously going to be a gradual rollout," Abdullah told a private news channel.

"If we are able to consolidate on the process, we will go forward," he added. Abdullah added though the roll-out was also subject to review, depending on the ground conditions.

One of centre's interlocutors on Kashmir, Dileep Padgaonkar, said that this kind of "CBM" (confidence-building measure) was an "extremely important measure". "There has been considerable improvement... taken together it should be possible to see palpable difference on the ground in the next few weeks," he said.
source:agency
Tags : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, central government, security forces in Kashmir

Qatar to increase the supply of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to India

New Delhi: Qatar has expressed its readiness to increase the supply of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to India.

This was conveyed during the two-day meeting of the India-Qatar high level monitoring mechanism (HLMM) held here from Jan 13-14.

The meeting was co-chaired by T.K.A. Nair, principal secretary to the prime minister, and Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Qatar's minister of state for international cooperation.

The HLMM was set up after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Qatar in November 2008. The committee monitors the progress in implementation of areas of cooperation.

"In the hydrocarbons sector, Qatar has conveyed readiness to increase supply of LNG to meet India's requirements and to facilitate the participation of Indian companies in the oil and gas sector in Qatar," said a press released issued by the ministry of external affairs.

Besides, the Qatar Investment Authority will consider investing in NTPC's Kaymukalam expansion project.

Qatar has "highlighted its interest in getting access to the public sector undertaking's disinvestments via the Anchor investor route," said the release.

India welcomed Qatar's proposal for wide-ranging cooperation in the area of banking supervision and exchange of information to combat money laundering and terror financing.

"The joint committee for promoting investment into India as well as the joint working group on fertiliser will be meeting soon," the release said.

The next HLMM meeting will be held in Doha in the first quarter of 2012.
source:agency
Tags : Qatar, supply of Liquified Natural Gas, supply of LNG to India, NTPC's Kaymukalam expansion project, India and Qatar

Kemrock Industries and Exports,to set Greenfield projects in the state

Mumbai: Vadodara-based Kemrock Industries and Exports, a leading manufacturer of reinforced polymer has signed an agreement with the Gujarat government to invest $2 billion to set Greenfield projects in the state.

These projects include defence and aerospace parks, a carbon fibre plant, a glass fibre unit and another facility for speciality polymers, said Kalpesh Patel, managing director of the company that is listed on domestic markets and Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

"Being the sole Indian commercial manufacturer of carbon fibre, a material of national importance, Kemrock will pursue the growth and development of the country. The promised investment of Rs.9,700 crore will be made over next three-five years."

The company has already commenced the process of land acquisition for the proposed manufacturing site near Vadodara, where it has its existing manufacturing unit spread over an area of around 250 acres.

Kemrock, which manufactures composite windmill blades, carbon and glass fibres and polymers, may also look for partners for setting up the Greenfield projects. It had recently signed a pact with Hindustan Aeronautics for a joint venture company.

The new venture is for developing, manufacturing and marketing aerospace-grade carbon fibre pre-pegs along with its associated material for defense and aerospace programmes in the country.
source:agency
Tags : India Business News, Kemrock Industries and Exports, Gujarat government

TRAI will start online registration of telemarketing companies from Jan 15

New Delhi: In the first step towards ending the menace of pesky calls, the telecom watchdog today said it will start online registration of telemarketing companies from Jan 15.

"The new telemarketers will have to pay a registration fee of Rs.1,000 and customer education fee of Rs.9,000 while the existing telemarketers will have to pay the customer education fee of Rs.9,000," Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in a statement.

"The registration would be valid for a period of 3 years unless revoked earlier," it added.

Last year, the telecom watchdog announced a set of new measures to curb unsolicited commercial calls and messages, which were to be implemented from Jan 1, including online registration of the telemarketing companies on Dec 15.

The registration process which required all the telemarketers to fill in online application forms for getting themselves registered was postponed citing security reasons.

The regulations, which is expected to curb the menace of pesky calls, includes a fine in the range of Rs.25,000 to Rs.250,000 for the defaulting companies and allocation of a number starting with '70' to telemarketers making it easy for customers to recognise their numbers.

Unlike the previous regulation that asked customers to register their numbers in 'do not call' list, users can now choose from different categories like 'fully blocked' or 'partially blocked,' under which a customer can receive communication for categories of his choice.
source:agency
Tags : India Business News, TRAI, unsolicited commercial calls, Cellular Operators Association of India

Flow of Indian students to Australia for higher studies has substantially reduced:Australian envoy

Chandigarh: The flow of Indian students to Australia for higher studies has substantially reduced but it could be due to the stringent migration policies than incidences of attacks on Indian students there, the Australian envoy said today.

"There is a large reduction in the number of Indian students, but I caution you from linking it to attacks. This reduction was because of change in the immigration policies," said Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese.

"Unlike the earlier generations, the Indian students over the last few years are going for private vocational courses that help them in attaining PR (permanent residence status). Like there were cookery and hair dressing courses, but we have changed the rules and these no longer lead to PR," he added.

On the drop in the number of Indian students, Varghese said the year on year decrease would be around 80 percent. He said that the Australian government had also shut down many inferior institutes.

"Institutes that were not offering quality education to foreign students were also closed on the directions of the government. This number is around 20 to 30. Some of them were closed down due to financial constraints," said Varghese at a meet-the-press at Press Club here.

"Some attacks could have racial elements and we obviously condemn them, but it would be a mistake to conclude that every incident was racial. These issues have now calmed down very significantly compared to a year ago," stated Varghese.

"Indian students have financial pressure, work late nights at high risk occupations, like driving taxis, and stay at high-criminal neighbourhoods. We have taken a number of preventive steps to make foreign students safe. Our criminal justice system is also dealing strictly with the culprits," he pointed out.

During the last couple of years many incidents of attacks on Indian students, including some motivated by racial elements, were reported. Two youths from Punjab were also murdered by the attackers.

After these incidents, a sudden decline was observed in the number of applicants for Australia and students started moving towards other safer destinations.
source:agency
Tags : India Education News, Indian students in Australia, Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese, Australian government

Indian Army going through a transformation to emerge as a "lethal, agile and networked" force :Army Chief General V.K. Singh

New Delhi: The Indian Army today said it was going through a transformation to emerge as a "lethal, agile and networked" force capable of meeting challenges on both the western and eastern borders with Pakistan and China.

Army Chief General V.K. Singh said it was planning new acquisitions and reforms in its command and control structure that would ensure it "plugs the gaps" in its operational capability and at the same time be able to take "quicker, effective decisions" to be responsive to situations.

For that purpose, the army was now thinking aloud on integrating its 'strategic force elements' into a single command, under which its offensive Strike Corps are placed, apart from restructuring its formation headquarters, including the army headquarters.

"The aim of the transformation is to become a more agile, lethal and networked force capable of meeting future challenges. The shift in focus is from being a threat-based force to a capability-based force with effective operational preparedness," Singh said.

"The capability to fight in both plains and mountains is not country-specific. We are capable of facing any threats on our borders. How we do it is our problem. We will ensure - wherever the threat is, be it on one or two fronts - we will be able to meet the threats," he said.

On the plans to create a separate strategic command, Singh said the army was trying out a lot of ideas, particularly to bring its strategic capability and assets under one command, but a decision on its headquarters and timing would be decided after a debate.

He clarified that this plan was army specific and had nothing to do with the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) or taking away its assets. SFC, a tri-service command, was set up early this century to handle India's strategic assets including its nuclear arsenal.

Under the transformation plans, Singh said the army was looking at reorganisation and restructuring of its headquarters to "flatten" the organisation to ensure there was synergy in all of its future theatre battle plans, to enhance optimum operational capability to meet threats, practical training, achieving network centricity, and addressing tri-service jointness."

That apart, the army would like to ensure all its finances for technological advancements and procurements are used up within the time lines every year and adequately.

For the purpose of effecting this transformation, the army was setting up "test beds" this year.

Singh said the army intended to induct new artillery guns - four types of artillery guns are being looked at - within this year. The army has already placed orders for about 145 M777 ultralight howitzers from the US last year.

The army also intended to strengthen its air defence through procurements and to ensure its tanks are not night blind by installing devices. It also plans further procurement of deep strike capability weapons such as Pinaka rockets and BrahMos cruise missiles.

To augment its air wing, the army will procure more rotary wing assets, both transport and attack helicopters, and upgrade the existing fleet of Chetaks and Cheetahs.

On the issue of weapons and equipment being obsolete, Singh said at any point of time, any force globally, had 30 per cent modern systems, 40 percent current technology and 30 percent in some stage of obsolescence.

On the possibility of renewing military exchanges with China, Singh said since it was a diplomacy issue, he would leave it to External Affairs Ministry to take a decision.
source:agency
Tags : India Defence News, Indian Army, India Pakistan Borders, India China Borders

Australia,wants more skilled people from India:Australian envoy

Chandigarh: Australia, already one of the favourite destinations for Indian migrants, wants more skilled people from India, the Australian envoy said here today.

To woo Indians, the Australian government would organise a promotional campaign to make people aware about the opportunities available in Down Under.

"India is the second largest source of skilled migrants to Australia and we want this number to increase further. Therefore, we would organise a promotional campaign in India in 2012. We would target Chandigarh, Punjab and other cities of northern India," said Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese here.

He added, "We want to enhance people to people contact and want Indians to learn more about Australia. Currently 300,000 people of Indian diaspora are living in Australia, and majority of them are from Punjab. I am very optimistic that in mutual interests of India and Australia, relations will get stronger in the coming days."

Varghese, who is of Indian-origin, was talking to media persons during a meet-the-press programme here at the Press Club.

Talking about the new migration programme that Australia is to introduce in the coming months, Varghese said, "Our new migration programme will be more demand driven rather than supply driven. It is not the case that rules will be harsher or relaxed for any particular country."

Varghese was in favour of increasing bilateral trade between India and Australia.

"Bilateral relations between India and Australia are driven by strong economic impulses. Trade relations between the two countries have grown substantially during the last 5 years. The current bilateral trade is around Australian $22 billion. Australia has emerged as a strong commodity supplier, whereas demand in India has also increased," he said.

"There is immense scope in the sectors of finance, IT, healthcare and education. We also support India's claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council," he pointed out.
source:agency
Tags : India News, Indian migrants in Australia, Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese, Australian government

Birthplace of George Orwell is set for renovation,Bihar government declaring it as a protected site

Patna: After being neglected for decades, the birthplace of George Orwell, the legendary British author of cult classics like "Animal Farm" and "1984", is set for renovation as the Bihar government has issued a notification declaring it as a protected site.

Motihari magistrate Narmadeshwar Lal told IANS over telephone that the government notification has made it clear that Orwell's birthplace has been enlisted by the art and culture department for protection.

"The district administration has begun renovation work," Lal said.

Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair in 1903 at his ancestral home in Motihari district, near India's border with Nepal. His father, Richard Blair, worked as an agent of the opium department of the Indian Civil Service during British rule.

The single-storey house where Orwell spent his childhood has been lying neglected for decades. The crumbling building is home to stray animals and vagabonds. A small portion was taken over by the state government and a schoolteacher now lives there.

Lal said the state government has sanctioned a sum of Rs.29 lakh (Rs 2.9 million/35,000 pounds) for its renovation. "More money is likely to be sanctioned in the coming days," he said.

The notification for its protection has been issued under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments (Protection) Act, 1976.

According to the notification issued by the government, the district administration has been directed to start renovation work immediately with the aim of attracting tourists.

District officials as well as local residents say Orwell's birthplace was on the verge of ruin. "The house is in a dilapidated condition," they said.

It has been reported time and again that the roofline has bowed and buckled due to years of rain, while a large grapefruit tree has undermined the southern wall.

Only the stone floor looks solid, though it cracked during an earthquake that almost levelled Motihari in 1934.

At present, there is nothing to tell visitors that this modest two-room house was where Orwell spent the first few months of his life, tended to by his mother, Ida, and an Indian maid. Orwell and his mother left for Britain soon after.
source:agency
Tags : Bihar News, Birthplace of George Orwell, Bihar Government

Daniel Connell tries to bring the Sikh community closer to Australians

Chandigarh: He makes portraits of Sikh youths who study in Australia and drive taxis to earn their living. With his brush strokes, Daniel Connell tries to bring the community closer to Australians in difficult times.

Adelaide-based Connell, 40, acknowledges the contribution of the Sikh community to Australia.

"There are many Indian men and women, particularly from the Sikh community, in Australia. Their population, especially that of students, has exploded during the past five years. But I observed that Sikhs were not getting the right hospitality they deserved. This is my attempt to win respect for them."

After receiving a whopping response back home, he has brought his exhibition - named "Faith" - to Chandigarh.

The five-day exhibition will conclude on Jan 17 and then move on to Ludhiana in Punjab next month.

" 'Faith' has two main aims. First is to make Australians aware of the true identity of Sikhs and to explain to them how glorious this community is. Second is to make Sikhs comfortable in Australia and to give them respect and love," Connell told the media here.

The idea of making portraits of Sikh individuals wearing turbans and having beards struck Connell while travelling in a taxi driven by a Sikh student.

"My first interaction was with Lakhvir Singh, a taxi driver in Adelaide. Throughout the 45-minute journey we talked about a wide range of topics. I found him quite interesting and sweet. I was impressed by his dignified demeanour," Connell recalled.

"The chance encounter prompted me to visually communicate the different faces of this rapidly expanding community that is clearly enriching Australian society," he said.

Connell has so far made portraits of about 20 Sikh students.

"I displayed the works at various public places in Adelaide. The response from the local people was amazing. I am happy that they have started recognising the contribution of Sikhs to our country. Right now I am working along with 10 other Sikh students who are studying in different parts of Australia," said Connell.

Connell, who has also studied the Hindi language, has been frequently visiting India since 2007. He is currently pursuing a masters in visual arts at the University of South Australia.

The artist strongly condemned the attacks on Indian students in Australia but believes they were not racial in nature. There has been a spate of assaults on Indian youths since May 2009, with a couple of incidents even proving fatal.

"Such things cannot be tolerated in any society. Indian students usually stay in the suburbs at economical places and travel late nights. Therefore they are more vulnerable to attacks by goons or thieves. However, we should not add racial elements to it. These could happen anywhere in the world," said Connell.

"Indians go to Australia to earn money, not to simply enjoy the landscape. But we must understand that every society is aggressive and does not easily accept changes. Even the Italians, who are also whites, have suffered in Australia because they could not understand English," he added.
source:agency
Tags : India News, Daniel Connell, Portraits of Sikh Youths, Sikh Youths in Australia

Indo-Americans shocked at Sabarimala tragedy

Indo-Americans have expressed shock and dismay at the tragedy in remote Kerala (India), where stampede caused the deaths of dozens of returning Sabarimala pilgrims and injuring many more on Friday night.

Indo-American statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said: Our hearts and thoughts go out for the victims and their families and we are all in shock over this unimaginable loss. He called for prayers for the victims of the tragedy and their families, which reportedly happened on the last day of the about two-month festival.

Zed, who is Chairperson of Indo-American Leadership Confederation, argued that it clearly reflected on India and Kerala governments who appeared to have failed to properly manage a popular annual pilgrimage.

Rajan Zed pointed out that India was on track to become a global power but even could not manage a domestic event properly. It was blight on a country, which prided herself on having joined the league of hottest growth economies. He demanded apology from India and Kerala governments for failure to prevent this preventable tragedy, adequate compensation for the affected and their families, and action against the negligent officials.

Zed also appealed to India’s billionaires/millionaires, who had enormously benefitted from India’s economic growth, to come to the aid of the victims and their families. Quoting scriptures, Zed said that charity was a duty, which should be undertaken with sympathy and modesty.

India should better manage her festivals as stampedes were relatively common at India’s pilgrimage centers where large crowds gather in small areas with very little or no crowd-control or safety measures, Rajan Zed added.

Sabarimala is a Hindu pilgrimage center located in Kerala, where Lord Ayyappan is believed to have meditated after killing the powerful demoness Mahishi. Lord Ayyappan's temple is situated on a hilltop and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. About 50 million pilgrims visit Sabarimala annually.
--Press release

European Consumer Commissioner “regrets” absence of Christmas from “Europa Diary”

European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy has called the omission of Christmas from Europa Diary “incoherence”.
In a statement published on his website, John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, who is from Malta, said: It has come to my attention that the current edition of the Diary does not refer to those religious holidays and events, such as Christmas, that are of European heritage. I very much regret this incoherence and am taking immediate action.
Meanwhile, Hindus have applauded the European Commission (EC) for reportedly mentioning Hindu festivals in Europa Diary distributed in secondary schools throughout the European Union (EU).
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA), called it “a step in the right direction”. Awareness about major world religions thus created by mentioning in school diary would make the pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. He, however, indicated that this Diary should have included Christian festivals also, as Christianity was the largest religion of the world.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that this Diary appeared to be providing wealth of information about EU, rights, living, environment, etc., and seemed quite helpful for persuading students towards critical thinking, responsible action, informed decision making, active citizenship participation, etc. It posed thought provoking questions, included helpful web addresses, and provided facts in fun way. Rajan Zed, however, suggested that it should have included information about Roma (Gypsies) and the apartheid conditions faced by them in Europe.
EC published “The Europa Diary” 2010-2011 of 96-pages and titled as “Wise Choices”, with a Foreword by EC President José Manuel Barroso, is in its seventh year of publication. About 3,275,500 such diaries have reportedly been distributed this year free of charge in 27 EU countries, costing around 5.5 million Euros, with highest, 503275, going to Germany. Catie Thorburn is the managing editor.
Its contents include: About the EU; Europe and me; my rights, my choices; my environment; my health, my safety; and beyond our borders. It talks about reducing the importance to material prosperity, "Intolerance will not be tolerated", "Equality and diversity", "avoid mobile phone addiction", "Cyberbullying", "Parrots in Europe?", "Cultural understanding around the Mediterranean", etc.
--Press release

Hindus congratulate Mrinalini Mata on being elected Self-Realization Fellowship President

Congratulating Sri Mrinalini Mata on her election as President of Los Angeles (USA) headquartered worldwide Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) and Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India, Hindus hope that she would further promote the ancient concept of “realization of Self”.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said: Ancient Hindu scripture Katha Upanishad points out that when wise realize the Self, they go beyond sorrow. Self is supreme and those who meditate on Self are freed from the cycle of birth and death. When one realizes Self, there is nothing else to be known.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, added that he wished Mrinalini success in spreading Parmahansa Yogananda’s teachings and wisdom about yoga, divine unity, etc.
She succeeds Sri Daya Mata, who died on November 30, to become spiritual leader of Yogananda’s worldwide network. Said to be one of Yogananda’s close disciples with over 60 years in the organization, Mrinalini, 79, born as Merna Brown in Wichita (Kansas, USA), has been Vice President of the Fellowship since 1966. She was a teenager when she first met Yogananda. She has made various visits to India to spread the Fellowship message.
SRF is a worldwide religious organization founded in 1920 by Yogananda, who is known for acclaimed spiritual classic “Autobiography of a Yogi” (1946) which has been translated into over two dozen languages. It reportedly has about 600 temples, retreats, ashrams, and meditation centers worldwide and has presence in about 175 countries and lays stress on Kriya Yoga. Its sister organization, YSS of India, founded in 1917 at Dakshineswar near Kolkata, reportedly runs over 100 centers, retreats, and ashrams in India and neighboring countries besides 21 educational institutions and some charitable facilities.
Aims/ideals of SRF include: to disseminate among the nations a knowledge of definite scientific techniques for attaining direct personal experience of God, to reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna, to point out the one divine highway to which all paths of true religious beliefs eventually lead, to unite science and religion through realization of the unity of their underlying principles, etc.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.
--Press Release

20110113

FB.com costs Facebook $8.5 million

In the 21st Century, Shakespeare might ask, "What's in a domain name?" To the 6 million-member American Farm Bureau Federation, the answer is a lot of money.

Facebook paid $8.5 million to acquire the Internet address 'fb.com' for internal use by its employees from the largest US farm group.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the purchase on November 15, when Facebook unveiled its new messaging service. But he didn't reveal the pricetag.

"The Farm Bureau agreed to sell us fb.com and we in return have agreed not to sell farm subsidies," Zuckerberg said in an account on techcrunch.com.

At their annual meeting in Atlanta, Farm Bureau officials on Tuesday said the organization earned $8.5 million by selling a couple of domain names but is barred from identifying the buyer. The farm group uses fb.org as its Internet address but may own four dozen domain names related to farming.
source-reuters
Tags:Social media,Facebook,Cyber Squatting,American Farm Bureau

Jammu and Kashmir would see a Twenty-five percent reduction in security forces:Home Secretary G.K. Pillai

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir would see a 25 percent reduction in security forces and more bunkers would be lifted from Srinagar, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai today said. "There will be a 25 percent reduction of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, especially from populated areas," Pillai said at a symposium on the 'Way forward in Kashmir' organised by the Jamia Millia Islamia University here. More bunkers will be lifted from Srinagar, he added.

The home secretary said the three interlocutors appointed by the central government have been asked to give their final set of proposals for a political solution by April.

The central government had appointed the interlocutors - journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and economist M.M. Ansari - in the wake of street protests in Kashmir and police action in which over 100 protesters were killed in the summer of 2010. The interlocutors were tasked with suggesting ways of bringing about sustained peace in the state.
source:agency
Tags : Kashmir, Reduction in Security Forces in Jammu and Kashmir, Reduction in Bunkers in Jammu and Kashmir, GK Pillai

Pakistan accused India of moving at "snail's pace" in probing the 2007 Samjhauta Express train bombing

Islamabad: Pakistan has accused India of moving at "snail's pace" in probing the 2007 Samjhauta Express train bombing, and said it hoped New Delhi will share details of the investigaton with Islamabad "at the earliest".

"We hope India will share details of their investigations with Pakistan at the earliest, as was conveyed to them formally two days ago," Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit was quoted as saying by the media.

The remarks come two days after the Indian government has turned down Pakistan's demand to share the investigations into the terrorist attack blamed on Hindu radical groups.

The February 2007 blasts targetting the Pakistan-India Friendship train service killed 68 people, including 42 Pakistani nationals.

"It is now almost four years to the blast. The Indian investigation is clearly moving at a snail's pace, to put it mildly," Basit told reporters on Monday.

Pakistan has also summoned an Indian diplomat on Monday to insist on sharing the probe details after arrested Swami Aseemanand's reported confession about the role of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists in the blasts that hit the Samjhauta Express.

The Indian home ministry refused Pakistan's demand, saying "the investigation is still on and is at a preliminary stage". It said the government will take an appropriate decision when the investigations are concluded.

Aseemanand, whose real name is Jatin Chatterjee, 59, has been associated with the RSS-affiliated Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad in Gujarat. He has confessed before a magistrate that Hindutva activists were involved in the Samjhauta strike and the 2007 bombing at the Ajmer shrine in which three people died.

He also confessed before the magistrate that the 2008 Malegaon bombings that killed 37 people and the Hyderabad Mecca Masjid bombing in May 2007 were the handiwork of the Hindu extremists linked to the RSS.

Indian investigators had earlier blamed the terror acts on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami (HuJI) and many Indian Muslim youth were arrested for the bombings.
source:agency
Tags : India News, Samjhauta Bombing Investigation, 2007 Samjhauta Express Train Bombing, Pakistan

J&K CM Omar Abdullah again asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to halt its Kashmir yatra

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday again asked the Bharatiya Janata Party to halt its Kashmir yatra intended to culminate in hoisting the national flag at Lal Chowk, the historic city centre here, on Republic Day on Jan 26. Addressing a public meeting in the Zainakadal area in the old city, he said that after hoisting the national flag in Lal Chowk in 1992, the party has again embarked on hoisting the tri-colour at the same place after 19 years.

"This has exposed their intentions of creating trouble in the Valley," the chief minister said adding "the situation in Kashmir has improved after serious endeavours".

Abdullah had earlier also warned the BJP against unfurling of the Indian tricolor at Lal Chowk in Srinagar, saying that "BJP alone would be responsible for the consequences".

Meanwhile, senior separatist leader and pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik called for a march to Lal Chowk on Jan 26.

Malik said the moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq has supported the march which he said will be the "non-violent, democratic reply to the BJP".

BJP president Nitin Gadkari Wednesday launched the Rashtriya Ekta Yatra from Kolkata that would conclude in Lal Chowk on Republic Day.

Abdullah said that separatist leaders of the Hurriyat Conference were now speaking openly about the killers of two of the prominent leaders, Mirwaiz Moulvi Mohammad Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone.

"Time has now come to stop all kind of bloodshed in Kashmir and proactive role should be played to solve the Kashmir issue through dialogue process."

"Whether it is the Geelani-led Hurriyat or the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat group they should read the writing on the wall and realize that dialogue is the only solution to all the issues," he said.

He urged the Hurriyat leaders to meet the Kashmir interlocutors, saying that "they have good intention and full mandate of the centre to have a dialogue with all groups and submit their recommendations".

The chief minister said whatever recommendations will be submitted by these interlocutors, the central government will consider them positively.
source:agency
Tags : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, Bharatiya Janata Party Kashmir yatra, hoisting national flag at Lal Chowk, Republic Day on Jan 26

Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor donated special kites to school children

New Delhi: Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor has donated special kites with regulation strings to school children and urged them never to use glass powder-coated manja (string) to fly kites.

The actress sent a letter to the principal of Arya Vidya Mandir School in Mumbai on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, pointing out that thousands of birds, as well as children are injured by glass-coated manja.

"The (donated) kites send a positive message to children, encouraging them to prevent the suffering of birds by using only string which has not been coated with glass", Sonam said in the letter.

"I have been shocked and saddened to learn from my friends at PETA that countless birds are slashed, wounded, maimed and killed every day during Makar Sankranti and Basant Panchami. I am also disturbed by the fact that manjha (string) is responsible for numerous human injuries and even deaths, including that of a teacher who was killed just last year in Maharashtra," she said.

"In another incident, a youth was nearly decapitated by a manjha string while riding his bicycle. Such needless loss of life has moved me to take action for the sake of humans and birds alike."

"I would also like to relay this message to all your students: study hard, be goal-oriented and be compassionate. You can start by showing compassion and not using glass-coated string," she wrote.

The manja (string) used in kite-flying competitions is often gummed and coated with powdered and finely crushed glass, making it lethal for pigeons, crows, owls and other birds who become entangled after the strings get caught in trees or on poles.
source:agency
Tags : Entertainment News, Bollywood celebrities, Bollywood films

Looming sovereign debt crisis in Europe may impact the Indian IT industry:Infosys Technologies

Bangalore: The looming sovereign debt crisis in Europe may impact the Indian IT industry's growth in 2011 in case of defaults, a top official of the IT bellwether Infosys Technologies Ltd said today.

"Though the slow economic recovery in the developed markets has not impacted our business till now, the sovereign debt crisis brewing in Europe will have a domino effect on our industry if any country defaults," Infosys chief executive S. Gopalakrishnan told media here.

Recovering from the great recession of fiscal 2008-09 and 2009-10 when growth plunged to single digit from a high of 25-30 percent annual growth in boom times, the resilient Indian IT industry returned to double digit growth during this fiscal (2010-2011) on increasing outsourcing and offshoring from traditional and emerging markets.

"We have seen volume growth back and we hope the ensuing fiscal (2011-12) will be normal barring unforeseen situation such as sovereign debt default," Gopalakrishnan said on the margins of a media conference on the company's buoyant performance during the third quarter (Oct-Dec) of this fiscal (2010-12).

Fears of a sovereign debt crisis began last year in some European nations such as Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain (PIGS) and Belgium due to the widening of bond yield spread and risk insurance on credit default swaps between them and other European Union's member-states, especially Germany.

In the aftermath of the global financial meltdown that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in Sept 2008 in the US, rising government deficits and downgrading of European government debt rocked financial markets.

A rescue package of nearly $1 trillion was approved by the European governments in May to ensure financial stability across the troubled continent.

"Should something bad or unexpected happen in Europe or US, our growth pace will be affected though our exposure to the countries facing sovereign debt crisis is less than one percent," said Gopalakrishnan.

At the same time, expressing confidence that the industry would do well despite the uncertainty due to weaker economic recovery and high unemployment rate in the US, Gopalakrishnan said that the Indian industry had the resilience to bounce back as it did in the past decade when the internet/dotcom bubble burst in 2000-01 and recently during the recession of 2008-09/10.

"The crisis can also lead to greater currency volatility and capital inflows moving to developing markets like Brazil, South Korea and Japan where yields are going up. The rupee will be under pressure to depreciate than appreciate as we have higher current account deficit," Infosys chief financial executive V. Balakrishnan noted.
source:agency
Tags : India Business News, Infosys Technologies, Infosys BPO

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) delivered a solution to address lawful interception of its messenger

New Delhi: BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) today said it has delivered a solution to address lawful interception of its messenger and internet services and denied that any such access would be enabled for corporate e-mail services.

"RIM has delivered a solution that enables India's wireless carriers to address their lawful access requirements for our consumer messaging services, which include BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) e-mail," the company said in a statement.

"We also wish to underscore that this enablement of lawful access does not extend to BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which is essentially an enterprise VPN (Virtual Private Network) solution," it added.

The company stuck to its earlier statements saying that no changes can be made to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers since the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys.

"RIM cannot access information encrypted through BlackBerry Enterprise Server given that neither RIM nor the wireless operators are ever in possession of the encryption keys," it said.

Expressing concerns over possible use of Blackberry services by anti-social elements to stir social instability, the Indian government had threatened RIM to ban its services if the company denied the government access to its messenger and corporate communications.

RIM also said that the government has assured the company that all of its competitors shall also provide a lawful access capability to this same standard if they have not done it already.
source:agency
Tags : India Business News, BlackBerry, Research In Motion, BlackBerry messenger services

World Bank approved an IDA credit of $162.7 million to help improve livelihood opportunities

Washington: The World Bank has approved an International Development Association (IDA) credit of $162.7 million to help improve livelihood opportunities for some 400,000 village households in 17 districts of Rajasthan.

The Bank has also approved a credit of $7.98 million additional finance for an ongoing watershed development project in Uttarakhand that is helping rural communities increase agriculture productivity as well as rural incomes through a decentralised watershed management approach.

The funding for the Rajasthan Rural Livelihoods Project will help improve economic opportunities for rural communities, especially women and marginal groups, in 9,000 villages of the state, the Bank said in a release here.

The Project aims to help the state government raise income levels for some 400,000 rural poor households in Rajasthan.

"This Project with the World Bank is building on the successful livelihood initiatives undertaken in India to provide mechanisms by which rural households can improve their overall economic well-being," said Venu Rajamony, joint secretary, department of economic affairs, ministry of finance.

"Global experience has shown that while general growth of the economy helps reduce poverty, it needs to be complemented by specific strategies designed to expand opportunities for the poor," said Roberto Zagha, World Bank country director for India.

The additional funding of $7.98 million for the Uttarakhand Decentralised Watershed Development Project will sustain support for ongoing activities like helping farmers set up small agribusinesses.

These are critical to achieving the planned 10 percent increase in rural incomes in project areas by the end of the implementation period, the Bank said. The need for additional funds was brought about largely by increases in the prices of goods and services since the Project began in 2004.

According to a mid-term impact survey of 400 households in 40 villages conducted by TERI, real income in these households has increased by seven percent, two percentage points higher than the mid-term target of five percent.

Both IDA credits provided by the World Bank's fund for the poorest have 35 years to maturity and a 10-year grace period.
source:agency
Tags : India News, World Bank IDA for Rajasthan, World Bank Credit for Uttarakhand

11 MoUs signed during the 5th Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit for urban development

Gandhinagar: Eleven memoranda of understanding (MoUs) worth Rs.25,397 crore ($56.43 billion) for different urban development projects were signed during the 5th Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit here Thursday.

The major agreements include a Rs.5,200 crore ($11.55 billion) deal with Essel Group for solid waste management, sewage treatment in Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat, land fill, gas capture and electricity generation project in Ahmedabad and Vapi and desalination project in Surat, according to an official statement released here.

L&T Infrastructure Development has committed Rs.5,000 crore ($11.11 billion) investment for the Ahmedabad Monorail project.

Other major committed investments include Sintex Industries Rs.2,500 crore ($5.55 billion) investment on affordable housing for low income group people, Tata Housing's project worth Rs.1,000 crore ($2.22 billion) and Sevvy Unispace's knowledge park township and commercial development worth Rs.3,065 crore ($6.81 billion).
source:agency
Tags : India Business News, Gujarat News, 5th Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit

$462 billion worth of projects have been signed in the 2-day Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit:Narendra Modi

Gandhinagar: A staggering 7,936 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) for Rs.20,83,000 crore (about $462 billion) worth of projects have been signed in the two-day Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit, Chief Minister Narendra Modi announced at the valedictory function today evening.

The whopping investment would also result in about 5.2 million additional jobs, Modi added.

The previous edition of the summit in 2009 had resulted in about 4,000 MoUs being signed for investments worth Rs.12,00,000 crore (about $243 billion).

The investments on account of this year's Vibrant Gujarat Summit are higher than India's foreign exchange reserves estimated at around $300 billion, though how many of these MoUs turn into actual projects is a matter of conjecture.

With the who's who of India's corporate world in attendance here, the chief minister told the summit that the 21st century belonged not just to India, but also the larger Asia and Africa.
source:agency
Tags : India Business News, MoUs in Vibrant Gujarat Summit, Vibrant Gujarat Valedictory Function, Narendra Modi

Energy sector bagged deals with major corporates such as Reliance, Essar, Adani and Torrent

Gandhinagar: The energy sector bagged deals worth Rs.7.38 lakh crore with major corporates such as Reliance, Essar, Adani and Torrent signing agreements with the Gujarat government at the 5th Annual Vibrant Gujarat Summit.

Power sector won investment proposals worth Rs.6.25 lakh crore with 323 deals signed, while oil and gas sector got investment proposals worth Rs.1.13 lakh crore with 26 deals.

The agreements were signed in the presence of Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Conventional power sector signed 53 deals amounting to Rs.3.38 lakh crore and envisaging power generation capacity of over 60,000 megawatt.

While Reliance Power said that it will be setting up power projects of 7,200 megawatt with Rs.30,000 crore investment Adani Power proposed for an investment of Rs.38,000 crore for 6,000 megawatt projects.

Other companies including OPG Power proposed for a 5,400 megawatt project with an investment of Rs.25,600 crore, while SPR Infrastructure said that it will be investing Rs.15,000 crore for projects of 2,640 megawatt.

The renewable energy sector also attracted agreements worth Rs.2.78 lakh crore.

For solar, wind power and tidal power generation 72 deals were signed with a capacity of 7,850 megawatt with an investment of Rs.64,000 crore.

Reliance Industries Limited signed an agreement for an investment of Rs.50,000 crore at its Jamnagar refinery and for developing Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University as a world-class university.

ONGC said that it will be investing Rs.17,700 crore at its Ahmedabad, Mehsana and Ankleshwar in the next three to four years.

Essar Oil will be investing Rs.15,999 crore at its Jamnagar refinery while Gujarat State Petronet Ltd. said that it will make an investment of Rs.12,000 crore for transporting gas from Gujarat to Jammu.

Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation said it will invest Rs.5,000 crore while Oilex proposed an investment worth Rs.2,700 crore.
source:agency
Tags : India Business News, Gujarat News, Gujarat Energy Sector Deals, Reliance Agreement with Gujarat Government, Essar Agreement with Gujarat Government, Adani Agreement with Gujarat Government

Airtel Bangladesh to provide value-added short messaging services to cellphone users

Dhaka: Mobile solution provider Comviva has entered into a strategic partnership with Airtel Bangladesh to provide value-added short messaging services to cellphone users in the country.

The agreement will enable Airtel, an arm of the Indian telecom major Bharti Telecom, with a single-window web-based system to access, create, execute and manage value-added services.

The new services will be offered to the consumers under Airtel's unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), short message service (SMS) centre and bulk messaging gateway (BMG) portfolio.

"At Airtel Bangladesh, we're determined to provide best-in-class services and to continuously offer the best communication solutions to our businesses and individual customers," Chris Tobit, chief executive officer and managing director of Airtel Bangladesh, told media.
source:agency
Tags : India Business News, Airtel Bangladesh, Bharti Telecom, Mobile solution provider Comviva

Kolkata Knight Riders have roped in Abdulla,Bisla for the Indian Premier League (IPL)

Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders have roped in Mumbai all-rounded Iqbal Abdulla and Himachal Pradesh wicketkeeper Manvinder Bisla in their line-up for the coming fourth edition of the Indian Premier League.

"We have signed deals with Iqbal and Bisla," said a KKR official.

The official said the team was also in talks with stumper Shreevats Goswami, who was earlier with the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Abdullah has been a part of the KKR since the maiden IPL season, but played in only four games.

Bisla would be playing in his second IPL season this year after having made his debut in 2010 for Kings XI Punjab.
source:agency
Tags : India Sports News, Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 4

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is committed to promoting the Hindi language :VC

New Delhi: The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is committed to conserving and promoting the Hindi language, Vice Chancellor V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai today said.

"Keeping in mind the government policies about the conservation of Indian languages, we leave no stone unturned to publish most of our courses in Hindi," Pillai said in a release here.

He added that the sudden spurt in the number of programmes offered by the university coupled with a dynamic approach towards education, training and capacity building has produced 11 lakh professionals in last 25 years.

"The central government has announced that the current decade (2010-2020) is that of innovation and the country aims to strive towards an overall sustained development. It also focuses to reach the peak in the field of education and development. Our university is well established in this case," Pillai said.

"The university is equipped with 61 regional centres and 3,500 study centres. It is the flexibility and diversity of the programmes offered by the university which has deemed it the status and attracted such a large pool of students," he added.
source:agency
Tags : India Education News, IGNOU Promoting Hindi, IGNOU Conserving Hindi, V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai

New government rules aimed at avoiding "misuse" of the tourist visa

New Delhi: Foreigners travelling to India on tourist visas have to give a two-month gap before they re-enter the country, according to new government rules aimed at avoiding "misuse" of the tourist visa.

"It has come to the notice of the government that there has been abuse, misuse of tourist visa. With a view to curb the abuse, misuse of the tourist visa, (new) instructions have been issued imposing restrictions," according to a latest home ministry circular issued last week.

The new rules make a two-month gap mandatory between two visits for foreign nationals holding tourist visas with multiple entry facility.

However, the circular adds: "If any foreign national is required to visit the country again within a period of two months of his last departure (in emergency situations), (he or she) should obtain special permission from the mission concerned. It may be considered on merits of each case."

The new visa rules allow foreigners -- who after initial entry into India plan to visit another country on account of neighbourhood tourism related travel and re-enter India before finally exiting -- to have two or three entries.

"But (this is) subject to their submission of a detailed itinerary and supporting documentation (ticket bookings)."

India issues tourist visas to a foreigner who does not have a residence or occupation in the country and whose sole objective of the visit India is recreation, sightseeing and casual visits to meet friends and relatives.

The government disallows other activities other than recreation on tourist visa.

"No other activity is permissible on a tourist visa. The tourist visa is non-extendable and non-convertible," the order says.

A person holding a tourist visa cannot indulge in any business project and "if a person holding tourist visa is found to be involved in business activities or found working, action may be taken for visa violation".

Foreigners who return regularly to India for onward medical treatment have been exempted from the two-month gap.

"For persons coming for medical treatment, there is a separate category of medical visa. Foreign nationals coming for medical treatment will have to come only on medical visa and not on tourist visa."
source:agency
Tags : India News, Foreigners Travelling to India, India Tourist Visas, India Government Visa Rules