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MHA: Had informed Delhi Lokayukta why recommendation on Chouhan was not accepted

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The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today denied media reports suggesting it had not furnished information to the Delhi Lokayukta about the basis on which President Pratibha Patil had rejected its recommendation to remove Delhi Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Raj Kumar Chouhan for his alleged involvement in a tax evasion case.

"It is not true that MHA has not furnished the desired information to Lokayukta. Whatever is required under the provisions of the Delhi Lokayukta and Upalokayukta Act, 1995 has been furnished," a statement from the Ministry said here.

The statement came in the wake of media reports which said the Delhi Lokayukta had sent a third reminder to the Ministry in this regard.

RBI says inflation still sticky, growth risks have increased

The Reserve Bank of India said on Monday that the baseline inflation path still remained sticky and broadly unchanged from earlier projections while growth risks had increased on account of global headwinds and domestic factors.

RBI logo
RBI logo

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today said that the baseline inflation path still remained sticky and broadly unchanged from earlier projections while growth risks had increased on account of global headwinds and domestic factors.

"On current assessment, growth in 2011-12 is likely to moderate slightly from that projected earlier," the central bank said in its Macroeconomic and Monetary Developments Second Quarter Review 2011-12.

The document serves as a background to the Monetary Policy Statement 2011-12 to be announced tomorrow.

The review said that, while persistent high inflation was impacting growth, investment was slowing down. The fall in new corporate fixed investment since the second half of 2010-11 has been significant and can impact the pipeline investment in coming years, it said.

"Inflation risk, however, persists. The policy choices have become more complex. In this backdrop, the monetary policy trajectory will need to be guided by the emerging growth-inflation dynamics even as transmission of the past actions is still unfolding," it said.

The RBI said various surveys conducted, both by the Reserve Bank and outside agencies, suggested that business expectations had suffered, while inflation expectations remained high.

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As a further step for increased transparency in monetary policy formulation, the RBI for the first time released surveys conducted by it along with the Macroeconomic and Monetary Developments, one day ahead of the policy.

The review said high inflation was likely to persist over the next couple of months before moderating as falling global commodity prices so far had been offset by rupee depreciation. Incomplete pass-through is likely to limit the impact of falling global commodity prices. Financialisation of commodities leaves future commodity price path uncertain, it said.

According to it, domestic price pressures still remain significant and broad-based. Food inflation is likely to stay elevated due to demand-supply mismatches in non-cereals and large minimum support price (MSP revisions).

"Real wage inflation has extended into Q1 of 2011-12. In sum, the inflation challenge remains significant," it said.

The RBI said prospects for global growth appeared to be declining, even though recovery had not stalled so far.

It said there had been significant downward revisions in growth projections. Business and consumer confidence have dampened on the back of euro area sovereign debt crisis. Private sector balance sheets are at risk and significant weakness in the banking sector has re-emerged, it said.

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The review noted that global commodity prices, especially those of metals, had softened but had stayed elevated. Even after some correction, the current Brent crude oil price is still over 25 per cent higher than its average for 2010-11. The IMF has revised upwards its consumer price inflation forecast for EDEs, it said.

The growth of the Indian economy in 2011-12 was likely to moderate to below trend, the review said. Agriculture prospects remain encouraging with the likelihood of a record Kharif crop. However, moderation is visible in industrial activity and some services, it said.

It said that, in addition to domestic factors, global factors might slow down growth. With the increasing linkage of domestic industrial growth with global industrial cycle, some further moderation is likely ahead, given the weak global PMIs, it said.

Capacity constraints seem to be easing in some manufacturing segments, especially cement, fertilizers and steel. Construction activity has slowed and leading indicators suggest that going forward, services growth may slightly weaken, it said.

The RBI said investment demand was softening as a result of a combination of factors including monetary tightening, hindrances to project execution, deteriorating business confidence and slowing global economy.

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Planned corporate fixed investment in new projects declined significantly since the second half of 2010-11 and has stayed low in Q1 of 2011-12. Consequently, the pipeline of investment is likely to shrink, putting growth in 2012-13 at risk, it said.

Private consumption is also starting to soften in parts, but it remains robust overall as is evident from corporate sales performance. Sales growth continues to be healthy, but profits are under pressure, it said.

"Fiscal slippages during 2011-12 may complicate the task of aggregate demand management. Key to growth sustainability lies in supporting investment by rebalancing demand from government consumption to public and private investment," it said.

Turning to the external sector, the review said the current account deficit (CAD) had widened in Q1 of 2011-12, despite a surge in exports and higher net invisibles receipts. Going forward, exports could decelerate as global growth slows down. Invisible earnings may also decelerate as slow down in US and euro area could impact software exports, it said.

The document said a sharp decline in FII flows in Q2 of 2011-12 has been largely offset by strong FDI flows. However, capital flows are entering an uncertain phase with increased financial stress and worsening global growth prospects. External sector outlook, although stable, warrants close monitoring, it said.

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"During Q2 of 2011-12, liquidity conditions, though in deficit mode in line with the policy objective, remained comfortable. Base money decelerated as currency growth moderated. Money (M3) growth, however, moderated less sharply and remained above the indicative trajectory as the money multiplier increased.

"Bank credit growth is presently above the indicative trajectory. This has been supplemented by increased resource flows from non-banking sources. Going forward, credit growth is expected to moderate as growth slows.

"Monetary policy has been significantly tightened since February 2010 with an effective increase of 500 bps in policy rates and a 100 bps increase in CRR; but monetary transmission is still unfolding and real interest rates remain low and non-disruptive to growth," it said.

The review said volatility was high in global financial markets in Q2 of 2011-12. Rising risk aversion caused credit spreads to widen. Volatility spillovers impacted domestic currency and equity markets in a limited way.

"Rupee depreciation and the fall in equity indices in Q2 of 2011-12 were comparable to the patterns in most other emerging markets. Money market rates remained in line with policy signals, while G-sec yields hardened after the announcement of additional market borrowing," it added.

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Delhi Metro to curtail services on Diwali, run more trains on Bhai Duj

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The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) today said that the last train service on October 26 will start at 8 pm from terminal stations of all its six lines on account of Diwali festival.

These stations are Dilshad Garden, Rithala, Jahangir Puri, Huda City Centre, Noida City Centre, Dwarka Sector-21, Yamuna Bank, Vaishali, Inderlok, Mundka, Central Secretariat and Badarpur.

Metro train services will run as usual for rest of the day on Diwali from 06:00 am onwards.

On October 28, which is Bhai Duj, in view of the expected rise in the number of commuters, the Metro trains will be run at peak-hour frequency from 8 AM to 8.30 PM.

More than 15 trains which are normally withdrawn from lines during off peak hours (12:30 PM to 4:30 PM) will be kept in service, performing over 200 extra trips, making a total of about 2700 trips on that day, a DMRC press release said.

The release said the DMRC would also deploy more Customer Facilitation Agents to help and guide commuters on October 28 at busy Metro stations and will also operate additional ticket counters, if required, to handle the increased load on the ticketing system

Metro train services on Bhai Duj will be available from 6.00 AM to 11.00 PM as usual, the release added.

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Infosys China to set up branch in Dalian High-Tech Zone

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IT services major Infosys Ltd today said that its subsidiary in China had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Dalian High-tech Zone (DHTZ) government to establish a branch in DHTZ.

This branch of Infosys Technologies (China) Co. Ltd will focus on software development and outsourcing business in the region, a press release from the company said.

Mr. Luan Qingwei, Government leader of Dalian city and other Chinese dignitaries joined Mr. Shaji Farooq, Senior Vice President, Infosys Ltd. and Mr. Rangarajan Vellamore, Chief Executive Officer, Infosys Technologies (China) Co. Ltd. at the inauguration ceremony that was held at Ascendas IT Park in Dalian, China, it said.

Indians in Turkey reported to be safe after Sunday's earthquake

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All Indians in Turkey are reportedly safe after yesterday's devastating earthquake that rocked parts of that country and caused widespread losses of lives and property.

"As per information available with the Embassy of India in Ankara, Indian nationals are reportedly safe," a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said.

The Embassy has also set up a help line with the following numbers: + 90 530 4403216 (during office hours) or + 90 5303142200 (outside office hours).

The mission can also be contacted on the e-mail address: dcm@indembassy.org.tr

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Essar Energy completes 35-day shutdown of Vadinar refinery

A view of the Essar refinery at Vadinar in Gujarat
A view of the Essar refinery at Vadinar in Gujarat

Essar Energy today said it had completed a 35-day shutdown of its Vadinar refinery in Gujarat that was taken for the tie-in of new units for the Phase I expansion of the project and the revamp of three major units relating to the expansion.

The three units are the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU), the Fluidised Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) and the Sulphur Recovery Unit (SRU).

A press release from the company said it also took advantage of the shutdown to carry out routine maintenance and inspection work.

In total, 2,424 maintenance and inspection jobs and over 1,400 tie-in jobs for the revamped units were completed. All of these jobs were completed without any accidents or injuries, it said.

India has longest polio-free period since launch of eradication efforts

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With only one polio case detected so far this year in the country, India has had the longest polio-free period ever since eradication efforts were launched.

The only case of polio reported this year has been from Howrah district in West Bengal on January 13, 2001 as compared to 39 cases in the country in the same period of 2010, an official press release, issued on the occasion of World Polio Day today, said.

It said that, for the first time, no case of polio has been reported from Uttar Pradesh (since April 2010) and also from Bihar (since September 2010). No case of type 3 polio has come up for over a year.

Pakistan's Nusrat Bhutto passes away in Dubai at 82

File photo of Nusrat Bhutto
File photo of Nusrat Bhutto

Nusrat Bhutto, the widow of former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the mother of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, died in Dubai today after a protracted illness.

She was 82.

Ms Bhutto, a former chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was the mother-in-law of the country's current President Asif Ali Zardari.

Born at Isfahan in Iran on March 23, 1929, Ms Bhutto was married to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1951. After her husband was executed in 1979, she headed the PPP founded by him from 1979 to 1983.

Though she and her daughters were put under house arrest, the military regime headed by President Zia-ul-Haq allowed her to leave Pakistan in 1982 for London after she was diagnosed with cancer. She was joined there later by her daughters.

She was elected as a Member of National Assembly (MNA) from Larkana in 1988 and 1993.

Nusrat Bhutto had two sons Mir Murtaza Bhutto and Shahnawaz Bhutto and two daughters Benazir Bhutto and Sanam Bhutto. She outlived three of them - Murtaza, Shahnawaz and Benazir, with only Sanam remaining.

According to Pakistani media reports, her body will be brought to Sukkur from Dubai on a chartered flight tonight. She will be buried in Garhi Khuda Buksh in Larkana beside the grave of her husband.

Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani announced a 10-day national mourning. He also announced a public holiday on Monday and cancelled all his engagements.

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Labour shortage, competition from China, Korea hurting handicrafts industry: ASSOCHAM

 

India’s lucrative handicrafts industry is in distress, thanks to a perennial labour crunch and exodus of skilled workforce due to irregular and low wages, steep and steady rise in input costs and current slowdown in the United States and European economies, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said here today.

An ASSOCHAM press release said the apex industry body had conducted an industry-specific analysis, as part of which it interacted with 200 handicraft entrepreneurs and exporters during August and September at major handicrafts centres of Moradabad, Saharanpur, Ferozabad (Uttar Pradesh), Bagru, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Sanganer (Rajasthan) and Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Kutch and Mandvi (Gujarat) and Narsapur in Andhara Pradesh,

The study was aimed at ascertaining the impact of rising labour wages, labour shortages and the recent slump in global economy on profits of the industry.

"Intense competition from countries like China and South Korea producing machine-made cheap stuff together with labour pangs are eroding the profit margins of handicrafts industry which employs over 12 lakh craftsmen across India," said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings of the analysis.

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"Successful implementation of government programmes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme (MNREGS) and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) are also contributing to deficient labour force besides, passive artisans take up handicrafts work during the slack season and remain engaged in agricultural and allied activities during most of the time," said Mr Rawat.

But the over 20 per cent rise in handicrafts exports in August as compared to last year owing to orders flowing in from markets like Australia, Denmark, Holland, Latin American countries (LACs), Africa, Caribbean, Central and South-East Asia, Germany, Switzerland and other regions has cheered up the handicrafts exporters as they anticipate huge orders as the festive season of Christmas and New Year approaches, the survey showed.

During 2010-11, India exported handicrafts worth Rs 10,350 crore, up about 26 per cent year-on-year.

Apart from rampant labour shortage, lack of promotion, volatility of exchange rates and usage of primitive technology are other serious issues hurting the industry, said nearly 55 per cent of respondents.

Almost all the handicrafts produced in India with raw materials like jute, metal, pottery, stone and wood are handmade which makes them more expensive and resultantly there is lack of demand in the domestic sector.

But this aspect also places Indian handicrafts at an advantage with foreign buyers who acknowledge the painstaking efforts and value the artisanal touch over machine made goods, said a majority of respondents.

Art metalware, embroidered, crocheted goods, wood ware, hand printed textiles, imitation jewellery rank as top exported items, it added.

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India-Nepal Joint Press Statement

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting his Nepalese counterpart Baburam Bhattarai, in New Delhi on October 21, 2011
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting his Nepalese counterpart Baburam Bhattarai, in New Delhi on October 21, 2011" title="Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting his Nepalese counterpart Baburam Bhattarai, in New Delhi on October 21, 2011

Following is the text of the Joint Press Statement issued today by India and Nepal on the visit of Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to India:

The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai accompanied by his spouse, Hon. Ms. Hisila Yami paid an official visit to India from October 20-23, 2011 at the invitation of Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. The Prime Minister of Nepal was accompanied by Hon. Mr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha "Prakash", Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mr. Jaya Prakash Prasad Gupta, Minister for Information and Communications, Hon. Mr. Hridayesh Tripathi, Minister for Physical Planning and Works, Hon. Mr. Rajendra Mahato, Minister for Health and Population, Hon. Mr. Barsha Man Pun, Minister for Finance, Hon. Mr. Mahendra Prasad Yadav, Minister for Irrigation, Hon. Mr. Anil Kumar Jha, Minister for Industry, Hon. Mr. Deependra Bahadur Chhetri, Vice-Chairman, National Planning Commission, Hon. Mr. Hari Roka, Member, Legislature-Parliament, Hon. Mr. Om Prakash Yadav, Member, Legislature-Parliament and senior officials of the Government of Nepal.

2. The Prime Minister of Nepal called on the President and the Vice-President of India. Shri S.M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of Finance, Shri P. Chidambaram, Minister of Home Affairs, Shri A. K. Antony, Minister of Defence, Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition and other Indian dignitaries called on the Prime Minister of Nepal.

3. The Prime Minister of Nepal had a meeting with the Prime Minister of India followed by delegation-level talks. During the talks, the two Prime Ministers reviewed the state of bilateral relations and exchanged views on ways and means to further expand and consolidate the close, multi-faceted relations between the two countries. The talks were held in an atmosphere of utmost cordiality and warmth. The Prime Minister of India and Smt. Gursharan Kaur hosted a dinner in honour of the Prime Minister of Nepal and Mrs. Hisila Yami.

4. The Prime Minister of Nepal elucidated on the peace process and constitution drafting. He appreciated and expressed thanks to the Government and the people of India for their support and expressed hope to receive India’s goodwill and understanding for Nepal's peace process and continued cooperation for its socio-economic development. The Prime Minister of Nepal also highlighted his ongoing efforts for consensus building on the peace process of Nepal. The Prime Minister of India expressed full support for efforts to build consensus on the peace process and constitution drafting to pave way for Nepal's transition to an inclusive, multiparty democracy in Nepal.

5. The two Prime Ministers directed that all the bilateral institutional mechanisms be revitalized and convened regularly. They directed early meetings of the Joint Ministerial Commission on Water Resources and Home Secretaries.

6. The Nepalese side assured that the Government of Nepal would take further measures for creating and promoting an investor-friendly and enabling business environment to encourage Indian public and private sector investments in Nepal. The two Prime Ministers directed the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) of Commerce Secretaries to convene at the earliest with a view to identifying ways and means of further strengthening mutually beneficial trade and investment ties between the two countries and look into all trade and transit related issues, including trade imbalance, remaining issues of Trade Treaty, Nepal's request for waiver of 4% additional customs duty, issue of fixation of additional one-time lock by Indian customs between Kolkata/Haldia Port and Nepal and operationalisation of Vishakhapatnam port for Nepal’s trade. With regard to the issue of Duty Refund Procedure (DRP) under the new Treaty of Trade, the Indian side assured that the necessary notification in this regard is expected to be issued shortly.

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7. The two sides directed the relevant officials to hold comprehensive review of the Rail Services Agreement at the earliest to enhance cooperation in the field of railways and explore movement of additional stream of wagons to/from Birgunj ICD in Nepal. The two sides agreed to expeditiously complete procedural requirements for operationalisation of rail transit facility through Rohanpur-Singhabad and transit between Vishakhapatnam and Nepal.

8. In response to Nepal's request for increase in the quantum of electricity export to 200 MW to cope with the power deficit during the dry season, the Indian side conveyed readiness to supply maximum electricity possible on existing transmission lines and suggested that technical experts of the two countries should meet to explore the options available for enhancing electricity trade between India and Nepal. With reference to the draft MOU on cross-border interconnection for electric power trade, the Indian side conveyed that it would expeditiously examine the draft.

9. The two sides reiterated that the open border between Nepal and India has greatly facilitated exchanges among the peoples of both countries, and that it is equally important to manage the border effectively and efficiently to control cross-border criminal activities. The two sides discussed security concerns related to the open border between the two countries. The Nepalese side assured that it would not allow its territory to be used for any activity against India and the Indian side also gave the same assurance to the Nepalese side.

10. The two Prime Ministers committed to extend all necessary support to facilitate expeditious completion of construction of roads, rail links and the Integrated Check Posts in the India-Nepal border areas.

11. The Nepalese side requested the Government of India to allow three additional inbound air routes from Janakpur, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj in view of increased air traffic to and from Nepal and for facilitating international air service from the regional airports of Nepal in cost effective manner. The Indian side proposed a meeting of the civil aviation authorities of Nepal and India to discuss and address various issues in this sector.

12. The Prime Minister of Nepal requested the Prime Minister of India for India's assistance in implementing priority development projects in Nepal. The Indian side indicated willingness to favorably consider priority development projects in various sectors as requested by Nepal and suggested that these may be reviewed and considered in detail at a meeting of the Joint Commission at the earliest.

13. The Prime Minister of India offered to increase the ITEC slots for Nepal to 200 every year.

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14. In presence of the two Prime Ministers, the Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments, Agreement for dollar credit line of US$ 250 million between Government of Nepal and Export-Import Bank of India and Memorandum of Understanding regarding Indian grant assistance of ` 1.875 crore for the goitre control programme in Nepal were signed.

15. The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction that the two sides have considered and reached agreement on the text of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and committed to sign the DTAA at the earliest possible on completion of the respective legal procedures.

16. The two sides expressed concern at the human suffering and loss of lives and property caused by floods and inundation at the border areas during the monsoon and agreed to strengthen coordination and consultation to deal with the problem. They agreed that the Joint Ministerial Commission and Joint Commission on Water Resources should convene at the earliest and discuss the current pressing issues and identify the measures for immediate correction.

17. The two sides agreed to further promote exchange of Parliamentarians.

18. The two sides proposed establishment of an Eminent Persons Group to look into the totality of India-Nepal relations and suggest measures to further expand and consolidate the close, multi-faceted relations between the two countries. The modalities of the proposed Group would be worked out through mutual consultation at the earliest.

19. Both sides noted that the multi faceted and deep rooted relationships between the two countries needed further consolidation and expansion in a forward looking manner to better reflect the current realities.

It was in this broader context that the two Prime Ministers agreed to review, adjust and update the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship and other agreements, while giving due recognition to the special features of the bilateral relationship. A High-Level Committee at the level of Foreign Secretaries will be set up for this purpose.

20. The Prime Minister of Nepal addressed a business luncheon meeting jointly organised by ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI and attended a programme at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

21. The Prime Minister of Nepal also visited Dehradun and visited the State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarkhand in Haridwar. The Hon’ble Governor of Uttarkhand hosted a lunch in honour of the Prime Minister.

22. The Prime Minister of Nepal renewed the invitation to the Prime Minister of India to pay an official visit to Nepal at an early date. The Prime Minister of India accepted it with pleasure. The dates of the visit will be decided through diplomatic channels.

New Delhi
October 23, 2011

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Bhutan's King Jigme, Queen Jetsun arrive on state visit to India

Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck being welcomed by the Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Milind Deora, on his arrival, in New Delhi on October 23, 2011.
Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck being welcomed by the Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Milind Deora, on his arrival, in New Delhi on October 23, 2011.
Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuk arrived here today on a nine-day state visit to India.
 
This is the royal couple's first visit abroad after their wedding on October 13 and the King's fourth visit to India since his coronation in November 2008. 
 
They were received at the Indira Gandhi International Terminal Airport here by Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Milind Deora, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and other senior officials.
 
King Jigme will be accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan tomorrow morning. Later, he will lay a wreath at Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi.
 
Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur and the Foreign Secretary will call on him later before the King arrives at Hyderabad House for a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
 
Vice-President M Hamid Ansari, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon are amongst those slated to call on King Jigme tomorrow.
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King Jigme and Queen Jetsun will meet President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan tomorrow evening.
 
On Tuesday, Chief of Army Staff Gen V K Singh will call on him. Later, the royal couple will meet ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence.
 
On Thursday, the royal couple will leave for Jaipur and then also visit Jodhpur and Udaipur in Rajasthan.
 
King Jigme had earlier paid a state visit to India in December 2009; visited Kolkata as the chief guest of the convocation ceremony of the Kolkata University in October 2010; and visited New Delhi as the guest of honour at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the National Defence College, of which he is an alumnus, also in October 2010. 
 
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Indian Army chopper strays into Pakistan, allowed to return

An Indian Army helicopter that strayed into Pakistani airspace on Sunday was forced to land by Pakistani forces but they allowed it to return to Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir by evening after a questioning of the four men on board convinced them it was an error and not a deliberate act.

A TV grab of an Indian Army helicopter which had intruded 'deep' into Pakistani airspace and was forced to land in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Sunday. UNI PHOTO
A TV grab of an Indian Army helicopter which had intruded 'deep' into Pakistani airspace and was forced to land in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Sunday. UNI PHOTO

An Indian Army helicopter that strayed into Pakistani airspace this afternoon was forced to land by Pakistani forces but they allowed it to return to Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir by evening after a questioning of the four men on board convinced them that it was an error and not a deliberate act.

The chopper with two pilots, an engineer and a junior commissioned officer (JCO) on board landed back in Kargil before sunset, a Defence Ministry official said.
 
The Cheetah helicopter had strayed into Pakistani airspace around 1330 hours today, reportedly because of the extremely bad weather conditions in the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir.
 
The helicopter was said to be carrying the engineer to carry out repairs of another chopper in the area when the incident occurred.
 
Pakistan's military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas told television channels that Pakistani forces forced the helicopter to land and took the four men into custody.
 
He said the four officers were safe and this fact had been conveyed to the Indian side. He said the authorities were questioning them to determine the circumstances in which the violation of airspace took place.
 
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Maj Gen Abbas said the chopper had strayed more than 20 km into Pakistani airspace in the Olding sector.
 
Reports reaching here said the helicopter of the Army Aviation Corps was flying from Leh to Bhimbat. 
 
Indian Army sources said the violation of airspace was an inadvertent error because of the bad weather conditions.
 
Later, the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries are understood to have talked to each other and resolved the issue, sources added.
 
"We are relieved that our officers and helicopter are back in India. We greatly appreciate the manner in which Pakistan worked with us in resolving the matter," the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Vishnu Prakash, said when asked about the episode.

He said the helicopter had strayed into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir due to inclement weather.

 
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Indian Army helicopter strays into Pakistani airspace, 4 officers in custody

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An Indian Army helicopter with four men on board strayed into Pakistani airspace today, reportedly because of the extremely bad weather conditions in the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir.
 
Pakistan's military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas told television channels that Pakistani forces forced the the Cheetah helicopter to land and took the four men - two pilots, an engineer and a junior commissioned officer (JCO) - into custody.
 
He said the four officers were safe and this fact had been conveyed to the Indian side. He said the authorities were questioning them to determine the circumstances in which the violation of airspace took place.
 
Maj Gen Abbas said the chopper had strayed more than 20 km into Pakistani airspace in the Olding sector.
 
Reports reaching here said the helicopter of the Army Aviation Corps was flying from Leh to Bhimbat. The incident occurred around 1330 hours in the Kargil area.
 
Indian Army sources said the violation of airspace was an inadvertent error because of the bad weather conditions.
 
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Advani wants probe into Chidambaram's role in 2G spectrum allocation

Senior BJP leader L K Advani said on Sunday that the role of then Finance Minister P Chidambaram, now the Union Home Minister, in the alleged 2G spectrum allocation scam clearly merited serious investigation

File photo of Senior BJP leader L K Advani addressing a press conference during his  'Jan Chetna Yatra' in Kolkata on October 21, 2011. UNI PHOTO
File photo of Senior BJP leader L K Advani addressing a press conference during his 'Jan Chetna Yatra' in Kolkata on October 21, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani today said that, despite elaborate attempts at a cover-up, the role of then Finance Minister P Chidambaram, now the Union Home Minister, in the alleged 2G spectrum allocation scam clearly merited serious investigation.
 
"What prompted the Finance Ministry to change its stated position on
auctioning scarce spectrum remains an abiding mystery," he said at a press conference after arriving here as part of his nation-wide Jan Chetna Yatra against corruption.
 
"Why did Mr Chidambaram concur with (then Union Communications Minister) Mr A Raja’s decision to allot spectrum in 2008 at 2001 prices, days after giving an opinion to the contrary?" he asked.

Advani says will go to Bangalore as part of yatra

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Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani today made it clear that he had no plans to skip Bangalore during his onoing nation-wide Jan Chetna Yatra against corruption as reported in some sections of the media.

"I will go to Karnataka and and I will also go to Bangalore," Mr Advani told mediapersons here today.

He said this in response to a question about the reports which suggested that he had cancelled plans to visit Bangalore after party leader and former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa was arrested in connection with an alleged scam and sent to judicial custody.

Mr Yeddyurappa's arrest has caused great embarrassment to the BJP and dented its campaign against the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre on the issue of corruption.

The Special Lokayukta Court yesterday extended the judicial custody of Mr Yeddyurappa till November 3. He was arrested on October 15 on the basis of a complaint filed by an advocate about alleged irregularities in denotifying government land.

Meanwhile, a UNI report from Bangalore quoted Karnataka BJP chief K S Eshwarappa as saying that Mr Advani would address a public meeting at the National College ground on October 30.

"Next day, the yatra will move to Mangalore for a tour of the coastal districts where also public meetings would be arranged in Mangalore and Udupi," he added.
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Ahluwalia calls for raising revenues, cutting subsidies in 12th Plan period

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia addressing the 56th National Development Council Meeting, in New Delhi on October 22, 2011.
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia addressing the 56th National Development Council Meeting, in New Delhi on October 22, 2011.
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia today underlined the need for both the Centre and the States to raise the ratio of tax revenues to gross domestic product (GDP) and cut untargeted subsidies to meet the resources challenge facing them in meeting the 12th Five-Year Plan goals.
 
Addressing the 56th meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) here, Mr Ahluwalia noted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his address earlier, had emphasised the importance of development of rural and urban infrastructure, provision of health services and extension of education and skill development for inclusive growth.
 
"I would urge Chief Ministers to ensure that they make adequate provision for these sectors when formulating the Twelfth Plan for the States. This must be accompanied by measures to mobilize own resources of the States," Mr Ahluwalia said.

PM calls for reversal of negativism so that India remains a rising economy

Stating that the current slowdown in the economy was a short-term phenomenon, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday called for a reversal of the mood of negativism that seems to have gripped the country so that India retained its place among rising economies.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the 56th meeting of National Development Council, in New Delhi on October 22, 2011. The Union Ministers  Kapil Sibal,  P. Chidambaram,  Pranab Mukherjee,  Kamal Nath,  Sharad Pawar, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashwani Kumar, the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and the Member-Secretary, Planning Commission Sudha Pillai are also seen.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the 56th meeting of National Development Council, in New Delhi on October 22, 2011. The Union Ministers Kapil Sibal, P. Chidambaram, Pranab Mukherjee, Kamal Nath, Sharad Pawar, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashwani Kumar, the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and the Member-Secretary, Planning Commission Sudha Pillai are also seen.

 

Stating that the current slowdown in the economy should be seen as a short-term phenomenon, reflecting highly unsettled conditions in the global economy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called for a reversal of the mood of negativism that seems to have gripped the country so that India retained its place among rising economies.
 
"Growth rates are being revised downwards in all countries for the current year," he said at the 56th meeting of the National Development Council (NDC), the country's highest policy-making body.
 
The meeting was called to consider the Approach Paper to the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17), which has proposed a growth target of 9 per cent per year for the period.
 
Dr Singh recalled that a distinguished business leader had said that in India "the business better than the mood" and pointed out that investment was, after all, a reflection of the "animal spirits" of enterprise.
 
"As we in government seek to create the foundations for higher investment, higher employment and growth, we must be particularly mindful of the impact of our policies and politics on public and private investor sentiment," he said.
 
Dr Singh dwelt at considerable length on the complex issue of interaction between politics and development policies. "Managing this interaction effectively is crucial if India is to achieve her full development potential," he said.
 
"Our democracy, our civil society and our free Press, all face a revolution of rising expectations. This is to some extent caused by the visible success achieved in some areas, which has made people realise what is possible and therefore, they demand a fair share of benefits in terms of the new opportunities created. The fact that we are a functioning democracy, in which vast numbers of our people participate and have a voice, magnifies the phenomenon," he said.
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar along with Dy. Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and state Planning and Development Minister N N Yadav at the 56th meeting of National Development Council held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on October 22, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar along with Dy. Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and state Planning and Development Minister N N Yadav at the 56th meeting of National Development Council held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on October 22, 2011. UNI PHOTO
The Prime Minister said India should be proud of the way its democracy forces the government to address these problems, but pointed out that this tidal wave of rising expectations puts tremendous pressure on the country's institutions.
 
"Since democracy is a politically competitive process, political parties naturally give voice to the demands of the people. But development also requires time and patience for policies to have an impact. It also requires cooperation," he said.
 
Dr Singh said elected governments could deliver only if, once elections are over and a government is formed, the political process works to allow governments to function in a manner where the needs of long term development do not become hostage to short term concerns. 
 
"What this means is that Parliamentary parties have to strike a difficult balance between maintaining adversarial political positions on many issues, while also cooperating to advance a shared longer term national agenda. This balance is not easy to strike," he said.
 
He said that, at times like these, it was of vital importance that each of the democratic institutions – the Executive, the Judiciary, the Parliament and State Legislatures, the various constitutional and regulatory authorities, understood what their due role was, and played that due role in a constructive manner.
 
"It is our collective responsibility to reverse the mood of negativism today. The future is what we make of it. Nothing is ordained or pre-determined. India can rise, but India can also falter. We live in a world of rising and faltering economies. We can either become victims of negativism, criticising ourselves all the way, or work together to put ourselves firmly in the group of rising economies. Both optimism and pessimism have an infectious quality," he said.
 
The Chief Minister of Kerala,  Oommen Chandy with the Chief Minister of Gujarat,  Narendra Modi, at the 56th meeting of National Development Council, in New Delhi on October 22, 2011.
The Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy with the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, at the 56th meeting of National Development Council, in New Delhi on October 22, 2011.
"I am confident that we can overcome the challenges we confront. But, I also realise that to do so we must first understand the enormity of the change underway globally and the challenge this poses for us. I urge you, Honourable Chief Ministers, to work together with the Central government to help accelerate the pace of growth and improve the quality of development of our people. Let us dedicate ourselves to implementing the 12th Plan in this spirit of nation building. 
 
"The world is watching India with great interest. I also believe it is watching us with great good will. The world has a stake in India’s success because a peaceful prosperous democratic India is a stabilising force in the world. Let us therefore embark on the Twelfth Five Year Plan journey with ambition tempered with humility and confidence, combined with determination. Let us show the world that democratic India is capable of building a prosperous, inclusive, secular and plural nation on the path of sustainable growth. The world has a great stake in the success of this Indian model of development," he said.
 
Dr Singh said that the Approach Paper to the 12th Plan outlined the challenges that the country faced in achieving its goal of rapid, inclusive and sustainable growth over the next five years.
 
He said the world was going through a major realignment of economic power. Industrialised countries are slowing down, emerging market economies are gaining weight and regionally, Asia is gaining weight, he said.
 
"As an emerging market economy in Asia, we stand to gain on both counts. Our policies in the 12th Five Year Plan must, therefore, be shaped to take full advantage of these emerging possibilities," he said.
 
Dr Singh said much of the growth process was now driven by actors outside the direct control of the government, including farmers, entrepreneurs and the private corporate sector, all of whom respond to market forces.
 
"This, however, does not mean that government has no role to play in the development process. It has a very large role and I would distinguish four areas in this context," he said.
 
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"First, government must provide a policy environment in which the creative spirit of our farmers and entrepreneurs is given full support and encouragement. This includes an environment of macro-economic stability, efficient functioning markets which ensure competitive discipline on private sector producers, a sound financial system for allocating financial resources, good governance with transparency and effective enforcement of the rule of law. 
 
"Second, the government has a very big role to play in developing the infrastructure needed in both rural and urban areas to support broad and inclusive growth. 
 
"Third, the government must have special programmes for livelihood support for the poor and vulnerable, aimed at directly increasing their income earning capabilities and at mainstreaming them in the overall growth process. 
 
"Fourth, government must ensure that every citizen must have access to essential public services of acceptable quality in health, education, skill development, provision of safe drinking water and sanitation. Without such services, effective inclusion is simply not possible," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that, as the country entered the 12th Plan, both the Central and State Governments should review what they were doing in each of these areas, and strengthen wherever necessary.
 
He said it was relevant to ask whether the growth target of 9 per cent per year was feasible, given the economy is currently slowing down.
 
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"In setting targets for the Twelfth Plan we must look at longer term potential, assuming that the immediate short term problems will be overcome. I have absolutely no doubt that our country’s longer term prospects are very good," he said.
 
He noted that, in the past two decades, different political parties, ruling in different times in different States, and also in the Centre, had pushed in the same general direction to ensure that his prediction in 1991 about India's emergence as a major economic power in the world was now a widely accepted reality.
 
Dr Singh said that, in the seven years since the UPA government headed by him first came to power in 2004, the economy had grown at an average rate of 8.5%. 
 
"India is now regarded one of the fastest growing emerging markets. What is particularly encouraging is that many states, including some that grew relatively slowly in earlier years, have shown an acceleration in growth performance. I congratulate the Chief Ministers of all these States. If each of our States adopts the ‘national best practice’, if not ‘global best practice’, our nation as a whole will benefit enormously," he said.
 
Dr Singh said that growth had never been the sole objective and the Government's aim had always been inclusive growth which ensures a broad spread of benefits to all sections of the population, particularly the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, the Other Backward Castes and other marginalised groups and also protects the environment. 
 
"A criticism often advanced is that while we have delivered high growth, we have not done nearly as well on inclusiveness. I believe there is some truth in this criticism, in the sense that we should have done better. However, it is not true to say that progress on this front has not been significant," he said.
 
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HCL Learning forays into management education in association with Annamalai University

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HCL Learning, the education and talent development division of HCL Infosystems Ltd., today said it had entered into an alliance with the Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu for launching an MBA-IMS Programme (Infrastructure Management & Security).

The two-year programme will be offered in the distance learning mode, a press release from HCL said.

Annamalai University offers a huge portfolio of distance learning programmes, and the MBA-IMS programme will be the first to be launched under its alliance with HCL Learning.

The alliance was formalized at a special launch event in Chennai by Prof. M.Ramanathan, Vice Chancellor, Annamalai University and Mr. Anand Ekambaram, Senior Vice President, HCL Learning.

"We are proud to have partnered with HCL Learning for our MBA Programme. I look forward to a synergistic relationship with HCL and I believe that we can look forward to many mutual learnings as well as newer opportunities for engagement as we go along," Prof Ramanathan said.

Mr Ekambaram said: "The Indian corporate sector requires quality management resources especially in niche fields like IT infrastructure and security management. We are pleased to enter the space of management education and also to have commenced our relationship with Annamalai University, one of the most prestigious educational institutions of our country."

According to the release, the MBA-IMS programme will equip students and practising executives and managers.

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Minor quake shakes Imphal in Manipur

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, shook Imphal, the capital of the north-eastern state of Manipur, tonight, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 24.8 degrees North and longitude 94.0 degrees East, occurred at 2010 hours today at a depth of 36 km, an IMD bulletin added.

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Indo-Oman air exercise - Eastern Bridge II - concludes at Jamnagar

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A four-day joint exercise between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) concluded today at Air Force Station Jamnagar.

The exercise, named "Ex Eastern Bridge - 2011" marks the second of the series after the first held in October 2009 when six IAF Jaguars had operated at RAFO Thumrait, Oman.

This was the first time that the RAFO Jaguars participated in a joint exercise held in India.

The RAFO contingent comprised six Jaguar aircraft and 115 personnel. The IAF’s Jaguars and MiG 29s based at Jamnagar participated in the exercise.

UP MLA Umlesh Yadav disqualified for indulging in "paid news" during 2007 polls

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The Election Commission has disqualified Ms Umlesh Yadav, who was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly in the 2007 General Elections from the Bisauli constituency, for not showing correct accounts of her election expenses and suppressing the expenditure incurred on "paid news".
 
Ms Yadav, the wife of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader D P Yadav, has been barred from being chosen as, and from being, a member of either House of Parliament or of the Legislative assembly or Legislative Council of any State under section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 for a period of three years.

Mukherjee calls for better coordination between monetary and fiscal policies

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaking at the Foundation Day celebrations, of Vijaya Bank in New Delhi on October 21, 2011.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaking at the Foundation Day celebrations, of Vijaya Bank in New Delhi on October 21, 2011.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said the present global economic developments and more particularly the sovereign debt crisis of Europe had once again brought into focus the need for better coordination between monetary and fiscal policies for improving overall economic stability and growth.
 
Speaking at the 81st Foundation Day celebrations of the public sector Vijaya Bank, he said that, in recent times, global financial markets had been troubled by perceptions of inadequate solutions to the Euro area sovereign debt problem, exposure of banks to Euro area sovereign debt and renewed fears of recession. 

Mahesh Desai first Indian to become president of world urologists' body

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Dr Mahesh Desai of the Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital (MPUH) at Nadiad in Gujarat has become the first Indian to be elected as the President of the Societe Internationale d'Urologie (SIU), the prestigious world body of urologists.
He assumed office at a glittering ceremony held at the SIU's World Congress held in Berlin earlier this week in the presence of urologists and other medical professionals from around the world.

SIU was founded in Paris in 1907 and serves its members from its new premises in Montreal, Canada. For the last two years, Dr. Desai was the President-elect of the SIU. 

Interceptor boat ICGS C-153 to join Coast Guard fleet at Porbandar on Saturday

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Indian Coast Guard (ICG) Director General Vice-Admiral Anil Chopra will commission interceptor boat ICGS C-153 at a ceremony at Porbandar in Gujarat tomorrow.

ICGS C-153 is the 11th and last in the series of interceptor boats built by ABG Shipyard, Surat.

C-153, on commissioning, will be based at Veraval on the Gujarat coast. Its induction is expected to greatly enhance coastal security in the country, an official press release said.

According to it, the boat is of 30 metres in length and of 90 ton displacement. C-153, commanded by Comdt LM Gajbhiye has 11 crew onboard. The water jet propelled vessel has an endurance of 500 nautical miles at 25 knots and are capable of doing high speed of upto 45 knots. The vessel is fitted with the latest state-of-the-art navigation, communication equipment and armament, thus making it an ideal platform for close coast/shallow water operations.

Business aircraft operators form association, expect 3-fold growth by 2020

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Business aircraft operators in India today announced the formation of an association that will function as the industry's first recognised body and provide a platform to encourage close cooperation amongst various stakeholders in the sector.

A press release from the body said the Business Aircraft Operators' Association (BAOA), headed by an Executive Board, includes 39 members who represent a majority 65 per cent of the total fleet in general aviation in India today.

"The business aviation industry is growing at an encouraging rate and India is all set to be the third largest aviation market by 2020," BAOA President Rohit Kapur said.

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