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Google Editor's Picks

This category is to select news stories for Google Editor's Picks.

BCCI announces team for T20, ODI Tri-series

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The National Selection Committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) led by K Srikkanth today announced a 17-member squad for two T-20 matches with Australia and the one-day tri-series with Sri Lanka as the third team.
 
The selectors including Narendra Hirwani, Mohinder Amarnath, Raja Venkat and Surendra Bhave, announced the squad after a marathon three-hour meeting in the city this evening.
 
The announcement of the team comes in the backdrop of the huge defeat India suffered at the hands of the Australia in the third test match at Perth today with the hosts taking lead in the series with 3-0.
 
The selectors brought back pacers Zaheer Khan and Praveen Kumar and decided to go in for a second wicket keeper-batsman in Parthiv Patel.
 
Following is the 17-member squad:
 
M S Dhoni (Captain), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambir, Virat Kohili, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravinder Jadeja, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Manoj Tiwari, Rahul Sharma, Parthiv Patel, Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan.
 
Talking to newspersons, Srikkanth, lamenting about the poor performance of the test squad, squarely blamed the batsmen.
 
"We have picked the 17-member squad, considering the long tour which extends till March and the number of ODIs involved," he said.
 
The Selection Committee Chairman also pointed out the choice was limited with number of players like Harbajan Singh, Sreesanth, Yuvraj Singh, Munaf Patel and M Arun still recovering from injuries.
 
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India's food inflation rate rises further to 11.75%

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India's food inflation rate rose further to 11.75 per cent for the week ended October 15 from 10.60 per cent for the previous week, an official statement said here today, quoting provisional data.

The inflation rate for fuel and power, however, dipped to 14.70 per cent from 15.17 per cent for the previous week, it said.

According to the data, the prices of vegetables were up by 25 per cent from a year ago, pulses by 9.06 per cent, fruits by 11.96 per cent, milk by 10.85 per cent, eggs, meat and fish by 12.82 per cent, cereals by 4.62 per cent and rice by 4.26 per cent.

However, the prices of wheat were down by 0.95 per cent from a year ago, potatoes by 0.45 per cent and onions by 18.93 per cent.

Overall, the annual rate of inflation for Primary Articles stood at 11.75 per cent for the week ended October 15 as compared to 11.18 per cent for the previous week.

The index for this major group, which has a weight of 20.12 per cent in the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), rose by 0.3 per cent to 204.5 from 203.8 for the previous week, the provisional data showed.

Within this group, the index for Food Articles rose by 0.2 per cent to 200.8 from 200.3 for the previous week due to higher prices of condiments & spices (3%), gram, fish-marine and maize (2% each) and pork (1%). However, the prices of poultry chicken (5%), bajra (2%) and egg, ragi and urad (1% each) declined.

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The index for Non-Food Articles declined by 0.1 per cent to 179.7 from 179.8 for the previous week due to lower prices of flowers (7%), gaur seed (6%), raw jute (3%), castor seed, groundnut seed and niger seed (2% each). However, the prices of gingelly seed (3%), raw silk, fodder, and soyabean (2%each) and raw cotton, raw rubber and copra (1%each) moved up.

The index for Minerals rose by 1.8 per cent to 309.2 from 303.6 for the previous week due to higher prices of steatite (19%), barites (13%) and crude petroleum (6%). However, the prices of zinc concentrate (13%), sillimanite and copper ore (7%each) and manganese ore and iron ore (3% each) declined.

In the case of Fuel & Power, which have a weight of 14.91 per cent in the WPI, the index remained unchanged at its previous week's level of 170.1.

The annual rate of inflation for this major group stood at 14.70 per cent for the week ended October 15 as compared to 15.17 per cent for the previous week.

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Birmitrapur-Barkote section of NH 23 in Orissa to be four/two-laned

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The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) yesterday approved the four/two laning with paved shoulder of the Birmitrapur-Barkote section of National Highway (NH)-23 in Sundargarh and Deogarh districts of Orissa.

The project will be implemented under Phase IV-A of the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) on DBFOT basis in BOT (toll) mode of delivery.

An official press release said the total estimated cost of the project is Rs 1098.90 crore, out of which Rs 320.75 crore will be for land acquisition, resettlement and pre-construction.

The total length of the project is 125.615 km. The concession period is 23 years, including construction period of 30 months.

According to the release, the project will reduce the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between Birmitrapur and Barkote. It will also increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities, the release added.

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Vijayawada-Machlipatnam section of NH 9 in Andhra Pradesh to be four-laned

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The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) yesterday approved a project for four-laning of the Vijayawada-Machlipatnam section of National Highway (NH)-9 in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh.

The project will be implemented under Phase IV-A of the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) on DBFOT basis in BOT (toll) mode of delivery, an official press release said.

The total estimated cost of the project is Rs.736 crore out of which Rs.130 crore will be for land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and pre-construction. The total length of the project is 64.611 km. The concession period is 20 years, including construction period of 24 months, it said.

According to the release, the project will reduce the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between Vijayawada and Machilipatnam. It will also increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities, it added.

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CCEA approves Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved a proposal for launching the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) with the World Bank assistance.

The total cost of the scheme is Rs.21,000 crore (Rs.1968 crore for State component and Rs.132 crore for Central component).

Of this, Rs 1680 crore will be funded by the World Bank, Rs 393.60 croreby the DRIP states and the balance of Rs 26.4 crore through central sector scheme, an official press release said.

The scheme would provide for rehabilitation of 223 dams in the States of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Tamil Nadu along with strengthening of dam safety institutions in the four states as well as at the national level in the Central Water Commission.

The release said the project would improve the safety and operational performance of selected existing dams with reduced risk of failure.

The primary beneficiaries of the project would be both urban and rural communities dependent on the concerned reservoirs for their water supply and livelihood as well as all downstream communities, who could be placed at physical and/or operational risk if dam safety is compromised.

With the institutional strengthening component, Dam Safety Organisations (DSOs) will become effective organisations that can take the lead in overseeing that dams remain safe from a structural and operational point of view, the release added.

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CCEA nod for 15 new Mega Food Park Projects

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved the setting up of 15 new Mega Food Park Projects in the country under the Infrastructure Development Scheme for Food Processing.

These would be in addition to the 15 ongoing projects and involve a total Government grant of Rs 787.50 crore, an official press release said.

According to the release, the setting up of the 15 new Mega Food Parks will result in creation of state-of-the-art infrastructure in major parts of the country with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlets.

The projects are expected to bring about substantial reduction of wastage, value addition, employment generation and increased income for the farmers, it said.

Cabinet approves augmentation of capital base of NABARD

The Union Cabinet yesterday approved a proposal for augmenting the capital base of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) by infusing Rs.3,000 crore as Government equity in two installments of Rs.1,000 crore in 2011-12 and Rs.2,000 crore during 2012-13.

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This would raise the paid-up capital of the institution to Rs.5,000 crore, an official press release said here.

Presently, the authorised capital of NABARD is Rs.5,000 crore, of which, the paid up capital is Rs.2,000 crore. The Government of India holds 99% share capital of NABARD.

As per the guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the outstanding total resources mobilised at any point of time by a financial institution should not exceed 10 times its net owned funds (NOF).

Therefore, it had become important to raise NABARD's NOF such that its ability to mobilise resources from the market could be enhanced.

"The infusion of the additional share capital by the Government of India will increase the net owned funds and thus the borrowing capacity of NABARD to enable it to extend its various activities," the release added.

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CBI files corruption cases against CMD of Northern Coalfields, others

 

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had registered three separate cases against the Chairman and Managing Director of Northern Coalfields Limited (NCL), Singrauli, and others for alleged corrupt practices in the matter of award of tenders and supply orders for mining equipment and accessories.
 
The others against whom the cases have been filed are the DeputyChief Engineer, NCL, Amlohri Project and the Deputy Chief Engineer, NCL, Jayant Project and three others.
 
A proprietor of a Singrauli-based private firm had been named in all the three cases, a CBI press release said.

Cabinet approves restructuring of Geological Survey of India

 

The Union Cabinet today approved a proposal for restructuring of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) aimed at enhancing its capacity to address emerging challenges, especially in augmenting resource base, both for essential and strategic minerals. 
 
An official press release said the Cabinet also approved the "right sizing" of the strength of GSI by filling up of posts over a 10-year-period to achieve full recommended strength.
 
It also approved the constitution of Geophysics, Chemistry and Engineering S&T Streams as Organized Services as as to bring them at par with the geology stream, the release said.

National Institute of Mountaineering & Allied Sports to be set up in Arunachal Pradesh

 

The Union Cabinet today approved setting up of a National Institute of Mountaineering & Allied Sports (NIMAS) at Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh as an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Defence.
 
The institute will be registered society under Societies Registration Act, an official press release said.
 
The required land at Dirang for the institute has been provided by the Arunachal Pradesh government. The expenditure on construction of various buildings at the site of the institute would be Rs. 81 crore. 

Cabinet okays National Optical Fiber Network for broadband connectivity of panchayats

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The Union Cabinet today approved a scheme for creation of a National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) for providing broadband connectivity to village panchayats around the country.
 
An official press release said the objective of the scheme is to extend the existing optical fiber network which is available up to district / block headquarters' level to the Gram Panchayat level initially by utilizing the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). 
 
The cost of this initial phase of the NOFN scheme is likely to be about Rs.20,000 crore. A similar amount of investment is likely to be made by the private sector complementing the NOFN infrastructure while providing services to individual users. 

CCEA approves MSP for Rabi crops of 2011-12 season

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today approved the minimum support price (MSP) for Rabi crops of 2011-12 season to be marketed in 2012-13, including Rs 1285 per quintal for wheat, up Rs 165 per quintal over last year's level.
 
An official press release said the MSP of barley had been raised by Rs.200 per quintal and fixed at Rs.980 per quintal. 
 
The MSP of gram and masur (lentils) has been fixed at Rs.2800 per quintal each, marking an increase of Rs.700 per quintal and Rs.550 per quintal, respectively, over their last year’s MSPs. 
 
The MSPs of rapeseed/mustard and safflower have been increased by Rs.650 per quintal and Rs.700 per quintal, respectively, over the last year’s MSPs and have been fixed at Rs.2500 per quintal each. 
 
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Ansari to lead Indian delegation to CHOGM at Perth from Oct 28-30

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Vice-President M Hamid Ansari will lead the Indian delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held at Perth, Australia from October 28-30.

The summit will be preceded by the Pre-CHOGM Foreign Ministers Meeting on October 26-27, to which the Indian delegation will be headed by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna.

They will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and other senior officials. An Indian business delegation led by CII President-designate Adi Godrej will also be in Perth.

Mr Ansari will leave here on October 27 and will return home on October 31.

President, VP, PM greet people on Diwali

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President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President M Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today greeted people on the occasion of Diwali, the festival of lights, that will be celebrated tomorrow.

"On the festive occasion of Diwali, I express my greetings and best wishes to all my fellow citizens.

"May the festival of lights dispel darkness and gloom and bring joy, happiness and prosperity to the people of our country," Ms Patil said in her message.

Mr Ansari said Deepawali signified the victory of good over evil and strengthens people's resolve to follow true ethical values in their lives.

"May the noble ideals of the festival usher in peace, prosperity and happiness in our lives," he said.

Dr Singh said the festival of lights was a harbinger of peace, joy and prosperity.

"It celebrates the victory of good over evil, and the spreading of the light of learning. It is a national festival in which all communities rejoice in amity and friendship and celebrate the solidarity of the nation.

"May this Deepawali bring peace and prosperity to all the people of our nation and to the world at large," the Prime Minister added.

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Cabinet approves revised proposal for National Manufacturing Policy

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The Union Cabinet approved the revised proposal of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry to put in place a National Manufacturing Policy that is aimed at creating an enabling environment for the sector to flourish in India.

The Cabinet had, at its meeting on September 15, considered the policy and directed that it may be considered by a Group of Ministers (GoM) for further harmonising the differences in some inter-ministerial positions, notably relating to the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

An official press release said the GoM, in its meeting held on October 14, had resolved the relevant issues. The revised note incorporating the recommendations of the GoM was approved by the Cabinet today.

Union Home Secretary chairs tripartite meeting with ULFA, Assam govt.

ULFA leader Arabinda Rajkhowa meeting Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh, in New Delhi on October 25, 2011.
ULFA leader Arabinda Rajkhowa meeting Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh, in New Delhi on October 25, 2011.

Union Home Secretary R K Singh today chaired a tripartite meeting involving the representatives of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Assam Government to discuss the demands submitted by the outfit earlier.

ULFA had submitted the demands to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram when they met him on August 5 in the presence of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

An official press release said the ULFA delegation was led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa.

Others present at the meeting included Assam Chief Secretary N K Das, the Centre's representative for peace talks P C Haldar, Internal Security Secretary U K Bansal, Joint Secretary (North East) Shambu Singh, Assam Additional Director General of Police K Sharma and state Home Commissioner Jishnu Barua.

After the preliminary discussion on the demands of ULFA, Mr Haldar was requested to hold meetings with the Chief Secretary, Assam and ULFA leaders on their demands regularly.

Concluding the meeting, Mr Singh stated that the steps taken by the ULFA leaders for restoration of peace and normalcy in the area would yield speedier socio-economic development for the people of Assam.

The Union Home Secretary would review the status of talks with ULFA periodically, the release added.

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Truck carrying uranium peroxide in minor accident, no spillage: DAE

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A trailer truck carrying uranium peroxide met with a minor accident on national highway 5 at Narsinghpeta in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh yesterday morning, but there has been no release of radioactivity or radiation from the container, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) said today.

"In fact all the drums containing the radiochemical are intact and no spillage has taken place," the DAE statement said.

According to it, the truck was on its way from Uranium Corporation of India Ltd., Jaduguda in Jharkhand to the Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad when the mishap occurred at about 0815 hours yesterday.

It said the power unit of the trailer truck (engine and driver's cabin) got partially damaged.

"There has been no impact on the container and the drums containing uranium peroxide," it said.

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The statement said a team of health physicists from Orissa Sand Complex (OSCOM) of Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IREL) reached the site immediately and confirmed after measurements that there had been no release of radioactivity or radiation from the container.

Alternate power unit has already been dispatched to the site of accident to continue the travel of the trailer, it said.

The trailer, as per normal practice, was being escorted by eight armed personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in two separate vehicles.

Additional security has been arranged for the truck to provide protection to the truck at the site on round the clock basis till its movement restarts, the statement added.

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Cabinet okays recommendations of Wage Boards for newspaper, news agency employees

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The Union Cabinet today approved the final recommendations of the Wage Boards for Working Journalists and Non-journalist Employees of Newspaper Establishments and News Agencies.

An official press release said the Cabinet approved the recommendations along with certain corrections and rectifications carried out under Section 12(1) of the Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees (conditions of Service) & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955.

The Government had earlier constituted the two Wage Boards in May 2007. The Chairman of the Wage Boards, Justice G.R. Majithia, submitted the final report to the Government on December 31, 2010.

The recommendations contained in Chapter XIX and XX of the final report will be published in the Gazette of India for implementation by the newspaper establishments and news agencies, the released.

The revised rates of wages will come into force with effect from 1st July, 2010 and other allowances like transport allowance, house rent allowance, hardship allowance shall be effective from the date of notification of the awards in the Gazette.

More than 40,000 newspaper employees in the country will be benefited by this decision, the release added.

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Cabinet nod for Regional Centre for Biotechnology under UNESCO auspices

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The Union Cabinet today approved the enactment of the requisite legislation for establishment of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Training and Education under the auspices of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The decision takes into account the fact that modern biotechnology has been recognised globally as a rapidly advancing science wherein molecular techniques and process are employed to develop health care solutions for human and animal sector, for agriculture and environment technologies.

The proposed Centre will engage students in research by integrating science, engineering and medicine with a view to create high quality human resource in disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas, an official press release said.

RBI decides to deregulate savings bank deposit interest rates

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today announced that it had decided to deregulate the savings bank deposit interest rate with immediate effect.

This means banks are free to determine their savings bank deposit interest rate, subject to two conditions, RBI Governor D Subbarao said at a press conference here to unveil the Second Quarter Review of Monetary Policy for 2011-12, which also included Developmental and Regulatory Policies.

The two conditions laid down by the central bank are:

  • First, each bank will have to offer a uniform interest rate on savings bank deposits up to Rs 1 lakh, irrespective of the amount in the account within this limit.
  • Second, for savings bank deposits over Rs 1 lakh, a bank may provide differential rates of interest, if it so chooses. However, there should not be any discrimination from customer to customer on interest rates for similar amount of deposit

To provide enhanced banking services in Tier 2 centres, the RBI has proposed to permit domestic scheduled commercial banks (other than Regional Rural Banks) to open branches in such centres (with population 50,000 to 99,999) without the need to take permission from the Reserve Bank in each case, subject to reporting.

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RBI persists with anti-inflationary stance, hikes repo rate by 25 bps to 8.50%

Persisting with its approach of monetary tightening in a bid to rein in inflation, the RBI on Tuesday increased the repo rate by 25 basis points from 8.25% to 8.50%, based on its assessment of the current macroeconomic situation.

 

Persisting with its approach of monetary tightening in a bid to rein in inflation, the Reserve Bank of India today increased the repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 8.25 per cent to 8.50 per cent, based on its assessment of the current macroeconomic situation.

Accordingly, the reverse repo rate under the LAF, determined with a spread of 100 basis point below the repo rate, gets calibrated to 7.5 per cent.

Similarly, the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate, determined with a spread of 100 bps above the repo rate, stands adjusted at 9.5 per cent, the RBI said.

The RBI has also decided to deregulate the savings bank deposit interest rate with immediate effect.

RBI Governor D Subbarao said the decisions were informed by two broad considerations - that both inflation and and inflation expectations remained high, broad-based and above the comfort level of the central bank and that growth was clearly moderating on account of the cumulative impact of past monetary policy actions as well as some other factors.

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Dr Subbarao said the RBI expected the current inflation levels to persist for two more months.

"There are potential risks of expectations becoming unhinged in the event of a pre-mature change in the policy stance. However, reassuringly, momentum indicators, particularly the de-seasonalised quarter-on-quarter headline and core inflation measures, indicate moderation. This is consistent with the projection that inflation will decline beginning December 2011," he said.

He said that, as inflation begins to decline, there would be growing room for the policy stance to give due consideration to growth risks, within the overall objective of maintaining a low and stable inflation environment.

"While the impact of past monetary actions is still unfolding, based on our growth-inflation dynamics, we considered it necessary to persist with the anti-inflationary stance," he said.

 

This is the 13th rate hike announced by the RBI during the last 18 months, during which the repo rate has gone up by a total of 375 basis points.
 
While the impact of these hikes on the inflation rate is yet to be seen, there are fears that they have affected the growth momentum of the economy.
 
A hike in the repo rate increases the borrowing costs of banks, which, in turn, usually pass on the burden to their customers, for whom all kinds of loans could become costlier. The latest move could also make home, auto, personal and corporate loans costlier.
 
Headline inflation has remained above 9 per cent levels for the 10th straight month on supply side bottlenecks, high commodity and fuel prices.
 
Also, food inflation, which accounts for over 14 per cent in headline inflation, stood at a six month high of 10.60 per cent for the week ended October 8.
 
The Second Quarter Review of Monetary Policy for 2011-12 unveiled by Dr Subbarao spells out three broad contours of the RBI's monetary policy stance:
  • to maintain an interest rate environment that contains inflation and anchors inflation expectations;
  • to stimulate investment activity to support raising the trend growth; and
  • to manage liquidity to ensure that it remains in moderate deficit, consistent with effective monetary transmission.
In its guidance for the period forward, the RBI said it expected the inflation rate to begin falling in December 2011 and then continue down a steady path to 7 per cent by March 2012. It is expected to moderate further in the first half of 2012-13.
 
"This reflects a combination of commodity price movements and the cumulative impact of monetary tightening. Further, moderating inflation rates are likely to impact expectations favourably. These expected outcomes provide some room for monetary policy to address growth risks in the short run. With this in mind, notwithstanding current rates of inflation persisting till November, the likelihood of a rate action in the December mid-quarter review is relatively low. Beyond that, if the inflation trajectory conforms to projections, further rate hikes may not be warranted. However, as always, actions will depend on the evolving macroeconomic conditions," it said.
 
Dr Subbarao emphasised that several factors – structural imbalances in agriculture, infrastructure capacity bottlenecks, distorted administered prices of several key commodities and the pace of fiscal consolidation – combine to keep medium-term inflation risks in the economy high. These risks can only be mitigated by concerted policy actions on several fronts. In the absence of progress on these, over the medium term, the monetary policy stance will have to take into account the risk of inflation surging in response to even a moderate growth recovery, he said.
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The RBI said it expected that today's policy action and the guidance it had given would result in the following three outcomes:
  • first, on the basis of a credible commitment to low and stable inflation, medium-term inflation expectations will remain anchored.
  • second, the emerging trajectory of inflation, which is expected to begin to decline in December 2011, will be reinforced.
  • and, finally, it will contribute to stimulating investment activity.
The central bank said that, on the global front, the growth momentum in the United States and the euro area economies had weakened. In the euro area, macroeconomic prospects are intimately tied in to its ability to credibly resolve its sovereign debt and financial sector problems, it said.
 
The adverse feedback loops among sluggish growth, weak sovereign balance sheets, large exposures of banks to sovereign debt and political compulsions coming in the way of a credible solution have created a crisis of confidence, which is a potential threat to regional and global financial stability, it said.
 
According to the document, the trade and financial linkages increase the risks of the euro area instability transmitting through to emerging market economies (EMEs), which have already experienced large volatility in their financial markets, particularly their currency markets. 
 
Significantly, while the prices of many commodities declined over the quarter, crude oil prices remained firm. The impact of this on commodity importing EMEs has been exacerbated by currency depreciation, it said.
 
Turning to the domestic macroeconomic situation, the RBI said the growth of the Indian economy decelerated to 7.7 per cent in the April-June quarter of 2011-12 from 7.8 per cent in the previous quarter. Industrial growth, as measured by the index of industrial production, decelerated to 5.6 per cent during April-August 2011, down from 8.7 per cent in the corresponding period of last year.
 
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It said growth in the service sector was holding up well, although some moderation was possible here, too, on account of inter-sectoral linkages. 
 
Based on the normal south-west monsoon and first advance estimates that suggest a record kharif production, agricultural prospects look good. However, investment demand has slackened reflecting slower clearance and execution of projects, concerns about inflation and rising interest rates, it said.
 
In its May Statement and the July Quarterly Review, the Reserve Bank projected GDP growth of 8.0 per cent for 2011-12. The mid-quarter review of September, however, pointed out that the risk to the growth projection was on the downside.
 
Based on the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, the RBI has revised downwards the baseline projection of GDP growth for 2011-12 to 7.6 per cent.
 
The document said inflation continued to be a major macroeconomic concern. "The headline WPI inflation has remained stubbornly high averaging 9.6 per cent during the financial year so far. Inflation has been broad-based, and  driven by all the three major groups, viz., primary articles; fuel and power; and manufactured products," it said.
 
"As indicated in the First Quarter Review, both the level and persistence of inflation remain a cause for concern. Of larger concern is the fact that even with the visible moderation in growth, inflation has persisted. Reassuringly, there is some comfort coming from de-seasonalised sequential quarterly WPI data which suggest that inflation momentum has turned down.
 
"Going forward, the inflation path will be shaped by both demand and supply factors.
 
"First, it will depend on the extent of moderation in aggregate demand. Some signs of demand moderation are evident, although the impact is being felt more on the investment side.
 
"Second, the behaviour of crude prices will be a crucial factor in shaping the outlook of domestic inflation in the near future. The benefit of a decline in global crude prices in the recent period has been more than offset by the depreciation of the rupee in nominal terms.  Thus, the exchange rate will also have some impact on the behaviour of domestic petroleum prices.
 
"Third, the inflation outlook will also depend on the supply response in respect of those commodities characterised by  structural imbalances, particularly protein items.
 
"Finally, there is still an element of suppressed inflation in the economy. Domestic prices of administered petroleum do not reflect the full pass-through of global commodity prices. Prices of coal and a few other commodities do not reflect the current market conditions. As and when price adjustments take place, they will add to inflationary pressures.
 
"Keeping in view the domestic demand-supply balance, the global trends in commodity prices and the likely demand scenario, the baseline projection for WPI inflation for March 2012 is kept unchanged at 7 per cent.  Elevated inflationary pressures are expected to ease from December 2011, though uncertainties about sudden adverse developments remain," it said.
 
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According to the RBI, the systemic liquidity deficit remained within one per cent of banks’ net demand and time liabilities (NDTL), the comfort zone assessed by the Reserve Bank and consistent with the anti-inflationary stance of monetary policy.
 
"This year so far, the money supply (M3) and credit growth remain above the indicative trajectories of the Reserve Bank. We expect that monetary aggregates will evolve along the projected trajectory indicated in the First Quarter Review. Accordingly, we have retained the M3  growth projection for 2011-12 at 15.5 per cent and non-food credit growth at 18 per cent," it said.
 
According to the RBI, the risks to growth and inflation projections are:
  • first, a major downside risk to growth emanates from the global macroeconomic environment;
  • second, despite recent moderation, global commodity prices remain high;
  • third, the Government has announced increased market borrowings, which can potentially crowd out more productive private sector investment; and,
  • fourth, structural imbalances in protein-rich items such as pulses, milk, egg, fish and meat will persist and consequently, food inflation is likely to remain under pressure.
Dr Subbarao said the RBI was fimly of the view that controlling inflation was imperative both for sustaining growth over the medium-term, and for  increasing the potential growth rate. 
 
"The potential growth rate is not a long term constant; nor is it exogenously determined. It is critically dependent upon policies that create a congenial investment climate and encourage investment activity. 
 
"The challenge for the Government and the Reserve Bank is to ensure that demand is constrained in the short term to bring inflation down, but at the same time to encourage supply response so as to improve productivity and expand the potential output of the economy in the medium term," he added.
 
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US Mission issues over 490,000 non-immigrant visas during year ended Sep 30

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United States missions in India issued more than 490,000 non-immigrant visas during the year ended September 30, an increase of 4.3 per cent in the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010.

A press release from the US Embassy in New Delhi said that, responding to the booming growth in Indian visa applications, in recent years the US Mission to India, which includes the Embassy here and Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, has greatly expanded its consular staffing, infrastructure, and outreach.

According to it, consular staffing has increased 60% in the past five years.

It said applicants may now choose to have their visa interview in languages including Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Tamil, and Telugu.

The release said the Mission has recently invested more than $100 million in updating and expanding its consular facilities. The Consulate General Hyderabad opened in 2009 and in the very near future, the new consulate facilities in Mumbai will open their doors.

Visa applicants from any location in India may visit the US Embassy’s website  or e-mail the Mission at infousdelhi@vfshelpline.com for free and accurate visa information direct from the source, the release added.

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Telangana stir: State govt. employees call off strike

The 42-day-old strike launched by Andhra Pradesh government employees in the Telangana region as part of the "Sakala Janula Samme" for a separate state was called off in the presence of Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy here tonight.

The employees ended their strike after the government reportedly agreed to their nine demands, excluding the Telangana state, as the subject is not in the purview of the state government, sources said.

The employees, who had launched the strike on September 13, announced that they would be back to work from tomorrow.

Earlier the Telangana Employees Joint Action Committee (JAC) leaders had marathon nine-hours talks with the Cabinet Sub-Committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha since this morning and later met the Chief Minister after the talks ended fruitfully.

The employees' leaders later signed an agreement on calling off the strike in the presence of the Chief Minister and the Cabinet Sub-Committee members.

The demands agreed to by the state government included one on treating the strike period of 42 days as "extraordinary leave".

The Chief Minister also agreed to cancel the orders of transfers and deputations made during the strike period.

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Hazare blames "gang of four" for allegations against Team Anna

Social activist Anna Hazare today defended former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Kiran Bedi, a key member of his team that is campaigning for an anti-corruption Lokpal in the country, against allegations of "air travel corruption" and blamed a "gang of four" in the ruling establishment for this kind of "character assassination".

"Who are these people? Those are the very same people who are not in favor of Janlokpal Bill," the 74-year-old Gandhian wrote in his blog.

He noted that Ms Bedi, who has been accused of inflating air travel bills submitted to organisations which invite her for lectures and other events, had made it clear that the Government could conduct an inquiry by one of its agencies to establish whether she had used the money for her own benefit.

Court reserves order on Kanimozhi's bail plea until Nov 3

The Special CBI Judge O P Saini today reserved its order on DMK Rajya Sabha member K Kanimozhi's bail application in the 2G spectrum allocation case till November 3, dashing hopes she and her parents had entertained about her being able to spend Diwali with her family.

Along with Ms Kanimozhi, the judge also reserved orders on the applications for bail filed by other accused in the case such as Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar, Cineyug Films founder Karim Morani, Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables CEOs Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal.

Earlier, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the court that it did not wish to oppose the bail plea of Ms Kanimozhi, Mr Kumar, Mr Morani, Mr Balwa and Mr Agarwal.

The agency, however, opposed the bail application of D B Realty promoter Shahid Balwa and former Communications Minister A Raja's R K Chandolia.

Ms Kanimozhi's father, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, and her mother were camping in the capital in the hope that their daughter would be able to come out on bail today. She has been in judicial custody in Delhi's Tihar Jail for more than five months now.

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