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PM promises executive, legal, technological reforms to curb corruption

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday reaffirmed the government's commitment to expeditiously move forward on a comprehensive agenda of executive, legal and technology reforms to curb corruption and deliver good governance.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the 18th Biennial Conference of CBI and State Anti-Corruption Bureaux, in New Delhi on October 21, 2011.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the 18th Biennial Conference of CBI and State Anti-Corruption Bureaux, in New Delhi on October 21, 2011.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today reaffirmed the government's commitment to expeditiously move forward on a comprehensive agenda of executive, legal and technology reforms to curb corruption and deliver good governance and hoped to see the establishment of a strong and effective Lokpal in the coming months.

"In the last few months the debate over the possible ways and means to curb corruption and improve the processes of governance has intensified in our country," he said in his address at the biennial conference of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and state anti-corruption bureaux.

Dr Singh said the agitation for the establishment of a Lok Pal (anti-corruption ombusman) had brought the issue of cleaning up of public life right at the top of the agenda of national priorities.

"I believe that the churning over this issue that our society and our polity are witnessing today, marked by sharp differences of opinions and ardent advocacy of particular causes is, on balance, good for our country.

"Today, the tasks of ensuring transparency and accountability in the work of public authorities and of building effective mechanisms for punishing those who indulge in corrupt practices and protecting those who seek to expose wrongdoings have acquired an urgency as never before. I believe that we as a nation should seize this moment," he said.

Dr Singh said that the government, in its efforts to curb corruption, would continue to welcome suggestions and inputs from various sections of civil society and non-government institutions.

"We should not and we cannot afford to tolerate a malaise that hurts our economic growth, harms our polity, alienates our people, breeds an amount of cynicism, lowers our image internationally and is particularly harsh on the poor," he said.

He said that it went without saying that the best way to fight corruption was to reduce opportunities for corrupt practices.

"If government decisions are transparent and the responsibility of individual public servants in the decision-making processes is clearly known, the deterrence against illegal private benefit in public work is so much more enhanced. The Right to Information Act that we provided to ourselves about six years back is a potent tool in ensuring such transparency and accountability in our public life. Here, I would like to emphasize that public authorities should voluntarily place as much information as is possible in the public domain to inform our people," he said.

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The Prime Minister said that, as part of its efforts to reduce opportunities for corrupt practices, the government was also working on ways and means to minimize discretionary powers of public authorities. This was a matter being considered by a Group of Ministers (GoM), he said.

He said the same GoM was also looking at the issue of a public procurement law to minimize irregularities in the award of government contracts worth thousands of crores of rupees every year. He said the government hoped to be able to introduce a Bill in Parliament for such a legislation.

Dr Singh said that, whatever the government might do to minimise the opportunities for corruption, the sad reality was that it could not build a totally fool-proof system.

"There will always be some instances of corrupt practices in the work of public authorities. And therefore, there is a need for speedy and thorough investigation into allegations of such wrong doings, followed by expeditious prosecution to bring the guilty to book. Those indulging in corrupt acts must realize that they can not possibly get away from the law and would sooner rather than later suffer the consequences of their wrongdoing. This would act as a powerful deterrent against corruption," he said.

Dr Singh said that the nation expected from the CBI, the nation's premier investigation agency, the highest standards of honesty and professionalism and a total disregard of any extraneous considerations, particularly political pressure, in its work.

"We require the use of the latest technology and the knowledge and the application of global best practices in the CBI's work. And professionalism demands facelessness, in the best traditions of our civil services. Premature publicity given to cases under investigation can harm the cause of justice. We must also not forget the distinction between a deliberate attempt at wrongdoing and honest mistakes, sometimes inevitable in decision-making processes under conditions of uncertainty," he said.

"I do hope, today we will introspect deeply and honestly about these expectations and whether we are doing enough to meet them. Our government will continue to support all efforts of the CBI to maintain the highest levels of personal conduct, to ensure speedy and timely completion of investigations, to strengthen the processes of prosecution and to bring in reforms in the organization, wherever necessary," he said.

The Prime Minister said India had ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in June 2011. This would strengthen its anti-corruption efforts and facilitate international cooperation in trans-border cases of corruption.

To meet the requirements of the Convention, the government has introduced a Bill in the Parliament to make bribery of foreign public officials an offence, he said.

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He said the government was considering changes in the laws to criminalize private sector bribery. Another Bill has been introduced in Parliament to provide protection to whistleblowers. The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill has also been introduced in Parliament, he said.

"We hope to see the establishment of a strong and effective Lokpal in the coming months. Whatever be the structure and functions of the Lokpal when it is established, the CBI as our premier investigating agency will continue to play a very important role in our efforts for ensuring probity in our public life," he said.

Dr Singh said the government had recently decided in-principle to prescribe a three-month deadline for deciding on request of investigating agencies for granting sanction for prosecution of public servants.

"In fact, this deadline would also apply to requests for permission for investigation by the CBI. We have also decided that if an authority refuses to grant permission for investigation or sanction for prosecution, the reasons for such denial would have to be informed to the next higher authority," he said.

Pointing out that delays in the trial of cases remained an area of serious public concern, he said that, to reduce pendency of CBI cases under trial, the government had decided to set up a committee under a retired Supreme Court judge to review cases pending trial, which are more than ten years old, and suggest ways and means for their speedy disposal.

He said the government had sanctioned 71 Special Courts for CBI to fast track trial of cases charge sheeted by the CBI. A majority of thse courts had already started functioning, he said.

Dr Singh said the nation had moved substantially forward in the last five years in its efforts to deal with corruption.

"Though we still have a long way to go, I also believe that today we stand at the cusp of far reaching changes in our approach and our institutional mechanisms to curb corruption in public life," he added.

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Essar Shipping receives SEBI approval for listing of shares

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Essar Shipping Ltd., a part of the Essar Group, has announced that it has received approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for the listing of the company’s shares on the stock exchanges.
 
This is pursuant to the demerger of the erstwhile Essar Shipping Ports & Logistics Ltd (ESPLL) into Essar Ports Ltd and Essar Shipping Ltd, a press release from the company said here yesterday.
 
In compliance with the Gujarat High Court-approved demerger scheme, ESPLL had been renamed as Essar Ports Ltd and has been trading since May 31, 2011 on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). 
 
The resultant company, Essar Shipping Limited, had been awaiting formal approval from SEBI for commencement of trading which has now been accorded. Essar Shipping Ltd. would also be listed on the NSE and BSE, the release said.
 
As per the scheme of arrangement approved by the Gujarat High Court, the shareholding of ESPLL had been split in the ratio 2:1. For every three shares of ESPLL held, shareholders received two shares of Essar Ports, and one share of Essar Shipping.
 
Essar Shipping has a diversified fleet of 26 vessels, including VLCCs, Capesizes, Supramaxes, mini bulk carriers and tugs. The company has placed orders for 12 new ships, which are expected to join the fleet over the next 24 months. A sizeable part of the capacity is deployed on long-term contracts and COAs, insulating the company from the volatility of spot markets.
 
The Oilfields Services business provides contract drilling services to oil & gas companies across the globe. This business owns one semi-submersible rig and 12 land rigs. The company has ordered two new jack-up rigs, which will be joining the fleet over the next 18 months.
 
The Logistics business provides end-to-end logistics services – from ships to ports, lighterage services to plants, intra-plant logistics and dispatching finished products to the final customer. This business owns transshipment assets to provide lighterage support services, and onshore & offshore logistics services. It manages a fleet of over 5,000 trucks for inland transportation of steel and petroleum products, the release added.
 
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Tata Steel to invest further £4.5 m in South Yorkshire operations

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Tata Steel today said it would invest a further £4.5 million in its South Yorkshire operations in the United Kingdom to improve plant reliability and energy efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions and boost production of high-value steel products. 
 
The amount of energy saved – 19,000 mega watt hours (MWh) – would power 4,000 homes, a press release from the company said.
 
According to it, the company is investing in four separate improvement projects at its Rotherham and Stocksbridge sites: £1 million in new quality inspection equipment at Thrybergh Bar Mill, Rotherham, £2 million to enhance fume extraction at Rotherham steelmaking plant, £0.5 million to improve steelmaking in Rotherham and £1 million to upgrade a re-heating furnace in Stocksbridge.

India-France Joint Statement

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe at delegation level talks in New Delhi on October 20, 2011
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe at delegation level talks in New Delhi on October 20, 2011

The following is the text of the India-France Joint Statement issued here on October 20, 2011 during the visit of French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe to New Delhi:

Joint Statement by Foreign Ministers of India and France on Progress in "India-France: Partnership for the Future"

The External Affairs Minister of the Republic of India, Shri S.M. Krishna and the Senior Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of the French Republic Mr. Alain Juppé met in New Delhi on 20 October 2011 and reviewed the progress on the implementation of the Joint Declaration on bilateral, regional and international issues of common interest and importance "India-France: Partnership for the Future" adopted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Nicolas Sarkozy on December 6, 2010.

Reaffirming that the India-France Strategic Partnership has been steadily strengthening and widening in scope, they agreed on a roadmap for its further development.

Bilateral

Trade and Economic Cooperation


The two Ministers recalled the target set in December 2010 of increasing bilateral trade to 12 billion by 2012 and reiterated their commitment to achieving it. They also welcomed the increase in foreign direct investment flows in both directions and agreed to address the genuine concerns of investors.

India and France have identified energy efficiency, renewable energy, preservation of biodiversity, urban services and infrastructure as promising fields of cooperation. To that end, Agence Française de Développement financing could be of relevance.

Space co-operation

Minister Krishna and Minister Juppé welcomed the successful launch of Megha-Tropiques satellite, a joint contribution to the global scientific community engaged in research on climate and weather systems. The forthcoming launch of SARAL, a joint satellite to study sea surface altitude would be another milestone in space cooperation. India and France encouraged Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the French National Space Agency (CNES) to pursue further cooperation in Earth System Science and Climate within the framework of the MoU signed in December 2010 and to explore new fields of cooperation in the future.

Defence Cooperation

India and France reaffirmed their continued interest in enhancing bilateral cooperation in Defence. They welcomed the success of the first joint exercise between the two Armies (Shakti, ongoing in October 2011), as also the exercises between their Navies (Varuna in January 2011) and Air Forces (Garuda in 2010).

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The two countries welcomed the finalisation of the project for modernisation of Indian Air Force’s Mirage 2000 aircraft and noted ongoing efforts to finalise joint defence research and development programmes, namely the SRSAM and Kaveri programmes. They reiterated their desire to cooperate in other high technology programmes and projects in the defence sector in the future.
Both countries reaffirmed their interest in intensifying their cooperation in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia and other areas.

Civil Nuclear Cooperation

India and France agreed to an early entry into force of the agreement on intellectual property rights on the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. They recognized the importance of the highest levels of safety for nuclear power plants. They agreed to strengthen the cooperation between the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of India and the Autorité de Sureté Nucléaire of France, and their technical support organizations. They welcomed the progress in the discussions between AREVA and NPCIL, aiming at finalizing the contract on the construction of two EPR reactors at Jaitapur and look forward to its early implementation. Following India’s enactment of civil nuclear liability legislation, both countries stand ready to further exchange views on this issue so as to ensure the appropriate framework for the sound development of their cooperation. They look forward to the conclusion of an agreement between ALSTOM, NPCIL and BHEL for supplying the Indian nuclear power program with the most recent technology for manufacturing turbo-generators

Education, Science & Technology

The two Ministers agreed that both Governments will work together to encourage an increase in the flow of students and researchers in both directions. India and France will increase the number and academic level of exchange students. They share a long term ambition for bilateral cooperation at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Rajasthan. France will finance scholarships for Indian students at the PhD level, depute professors to IIT Rajasthan and substantially contribute to the establishment of Joint Centres of Excellence/ research laboratories in the next five years. India welcomes this bilateral cooperation project in the higher education sector.

Culture

The two Ministers applauded the success of the cultural festivals Bonjour India and Namaste France. They committed to bolstering exchanges in the fields of culture and heritage. They took note of the success of the International seminar on "Traditions of cultural liberalism in India & France" organized in Paris in June 2011. They welcomed the future opening of an Indian cultural centre in Paris and looked forward to the upcoming Tagore exhibition in Paris.

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Migration and consular issues

India and France welcomed the recent negotiations for a Human Resource Mobility Partnership Agreement where progress was made on the essential aspects. They underlined the positive impact that this agreement will have on a global approach to comprehensive migration, based on the intensification of business opportunities, exchanges of students, researchers and young professionals and better tackling of irregular migration. They agreed to continue this discussion and resolved to conclude the Agreement as early as possible. They also agreed to reinforce the dialogue on consular issues.

Regional and global challenges

Afghanistan


India and France reaffirmed their solidarity with Afghanistan. They welcomed the will of the international community to remain committed after the 2014 transition, through bilateral and multilateral fora. Looking ahead to the Istanbul Conference of November 2, they welcomed the commitment of the region to work for a stable, peaceful, democratic and independent Afghanistan, achieved through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. They called for the continued engagement of the international community and increased cooperation in the region to work towards a terror-free Afghanistan. This would be in the interest of Afghanistan, the region and the international community at large.

Libya

The two countries support the efforts of the National Transition Council representing the Libyan people as a whole, to establish democratic institutions in a free Libya, to promote human rights, and to rebuild their country after the sufferings they have endured.

Middle East

Minister Krishna and Minister Juppé exchanged views on issues related to the Middle East including the peace process and the situation in Syria and agreed to continue the dialogue at all levels.

EU

Minister Krishna and Minister Juppé reiterated their willingness to participate in the strengthening of the relationship between the European Union and India. They called for a successful India-EU summit in February 2012. They agreed that India and the EU should continue to work for the early conclusion of the negotiations for a mutually beneficial and balanced Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), which will lead to substantial increase in bilateral trade and investment flows

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Terrorism

India and France have endeavoured to jointly fight international terrorism, a common threat. They reiterated their view that terrorism cannot be justified on any grounds or attributed to any root causes. They noted that the bilateral Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism had met in Paris in June 2011. The two sides agreed to further expand information exchange and enhance counterterrorism cooperation in areas of mutual concern. They resolved to continue their efforts for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN.

G20

The two Ministers reaffirmed the role of the G20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation. India fully supports the priorities put on the G20 agenda by the French presidency. India and France reiterated their commitment to working together in the G20, especially on global issues notably, addressing the Financial crisis, development including infrastructure and food security, social dimension, fight against corruption, innovative financing, commodity price volatility, reform of the international financial institutions and financial regulatory reforms. They are committed to make the G20 Summit in Cannes a success, and support the adoption of an ambitious action plan for growth.

UN Reform

France reaffirmed its support for India’s accession as a permanent member of an enlarged UN Security Council. India and France are committed to reinforce their consultations at the UN on issues pertaining to international peace and stability.

Non proliferation

The two countries will intensify their cooperation on non-proliferation challenges, and will continue to work towards India’s full membership to the four export control regimes.

Climate Change

The two Ministers stressed their resolve to address the challenges posed by Climate Change, firmly based on the principles and provisions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in particular the principle of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together for an equitable, balanced and comprehensive outcome to the upcoming 17th Conference of Parties at Durban, South Africa.

New Delhi
October 20, 2011

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Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on India visit

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Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt will meet External Affairs Minister S M Krishna here today for delegation levels between the two sides.
 
An official press release said the talks would provide an opportunity for both sides to review the progress in bilateral cooperation spanning a wide range of areas, including political, economic, health, scientific and technological fields, and to discuss ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship.
 
The two Ministers would also discuss regional and global issues of common interest and concern, it said.
 
Mr Bildt had arrived in India on October 19 on a three-day visit. He had earlier visited India in November 2009 during the India-EU Summit when Sweden held the EU Presidency. Before that, he had visited India in May 2007 for bilateral talks.
 
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Moderate earthquake jolts Junagadh, other parts of Gujarat

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, rocked Junagadh and several other parts of Gujarat late tonight.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a bulletin that the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 21.2 degrees North and longitude 70.7 degrees East, occurred at 2248 hours at a depth of 10 km.

Reports reaching here said the tremor was also felt in places such as Rajkot, Jamnagar and Surat.

People in many areas ran out of their buildings as a precautionary measure.

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Election Commission says no dates set yet for Assembly polls in 5 states

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The Election Commission today made it clear that there had been no consideration or thinking as yet regarding the timing of the General Elections to the State Assemblies of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa, which are due next year.

The clarification came after media reports suggesting that the Commission had discussed the dates and other arrangements for these elections.

"In view of the confusion created by the above mentioned reports, the Commission needs to clarify that there has not been any consideration or ‘thinking’ as yet regarding timing of the polls in the concerned 5 States. Never in recent days, any deliberation on the matter has been taken up by the Commission. As such, reports and references as mentioned above are completely baseless and misleading," a statement from the Commission said.

Kiran Bedi denies any personal gain from inflated airfares

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Former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Kiran Bedi, a key member of social activist Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign, today said she had derived no personal gains from the inflated air fares she claimed from organisations which invited her for various events.

"I receive invitations for speaking at various events. Many times organisers offer Business Class fare but I chose to downgrade myself and travel by Economy Class to save money for my foundation," she told mediapersons here.

She had called the press conference to explain her position after the Indian Express front-paged a report today saying that, at least on 12 occasions between 2006 and September this year, Ms Bedi had used her gallantry medal to get 75 per cent discount on Air India tickets and then submitted inflated invoices to claim full fare, even business class, reimbursements. In 2006, Ms Bedi was still serving in the government as a police officer.

Ms Bedi said she had always let the organisers know that she had travelled economy class instead of the higher class she was entitled to and the difference between what was reimbursed to her and what was actualy spent had been saved for her India Vision Foundation.

"I do it to save money. Is it wrong to save money? The money goes to the accounts of my foundation for a cause," she said, adding that the organisers, in fact, appreciated what she was doing.

She also pointed out that the foundation's accounts were audited every year.

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Ashok Chawla takes over as new Chairman of Competition Commission of India

Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerappa Moily administering the oath of office to Mr Ashok Chawla as the Chairman of Competition Commission of India, in New Delhi on October 20, 2011.
Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerappa Moily administering the oath of office to Mr Ashok Chawla as the Chairman of Competition Commission of India, in New Delhi on October 20, 2011.

Former Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla today took oath as the new Chairman of the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

Mr Chawla was administered the oath of office by Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily in his office. He succeeded Mr Dhanendra Kumar, who demitted office in June 2011 this year.

Before taking over as Finance Secretary in May 2009, Mr Chawla had served as Secretary Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance and as Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Mr Chawla is a retired officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), 1973 batch (Gujarat cadre). He has an MA in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics.

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India, France review cooperation in defence, space & civil nuclear energy

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India and France today reviewed their cooperation in defence, space and civil nuclear energy, which are important pillars of their bilateral relations and reiterated their commitment to continue to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.

"We have had very friendly, comprehensive and fruitful discussions today," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told mediapersons after talks with visiting French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.

Mr Krishna said Mr Juppe's visit was yet another reflection of the broadening bilateral engagement that characterised India's strategic partnership with France.

"Our excellent bilateral relations with France are marked by mutual trust. We also have a good political understanding on a range of regional and global issues, of mutual interest," he said.

Chidambaram writes to CMs on need for vigil to check communal incidents

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Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has written to Chief Ministers underlining the need for State Governments to maintain a high degree of vigil so that there were no communal incidents.

He said that this was important because the period from now until the end of January 2012 was marked by a number of religious occasions as well as commemorative dates and public holidays.

"In particular, a careful watch should be kept over elements that are likely to provoke discord among different communities and trigger communal incidents. Such elements should be identified and dealt with suitably," he said.

DAE sets up Expert Group to interact with people on Kudankulam n-project

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The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) today constituted an Expert Group of 15 specialists in different areas who will interact with officials of the Tamil Nadu government and spokespersons of the people in the neighbourhood of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) in the state.

An official press release said the expert group would explain the factual position on various aspects of the project and dispel apprehensions of some sections of the local people.

The Expert Group comprises renowned academicians, scientists, doctors and engineers specializing in areas like environmental science, radiation safety, nuclear reactor design, nuclear reactor safety, nuclear regulatory aspects, nuclear waste management, oncology, oceanography, fisheries, thermal ecology, and seismology.

India's food inflation rate in double digit territory again at 10.60%

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India's food inflation rate was back in double digit territory at 10.60 per cent for the week ended October 8 from 9.32 per cent for the previous week, an official statement said here today, quoting provisional data.

The inflation rate for fuel and power also rose marginally to 15.17 per cent from 15.10 per cent for the previous week, it said.

According to the data, the prices of vegetables were up by 17.59 per cent from a year ago, potatoes by 1.73 per cent, fruits by 12.39 per cent, milk by 10.80 per cent, eggs, meat & fish by 14.10 per cent, cereals by 4.73 per cent, rice by 4.42 per cent and pulses by 7.42 per cent.

Reliance MediaWorks to manage, operate Annapurna Studios

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Film and entertainment services company Reliance MediaWorks today said it had partnered with Annapurna Studios, a leading film and television studio and production house in Hyderabad, to manage and operate their studio facilities.

Reliance will also operate and expand the digital post-production facility at the studios, a press release from the company said here today.

Annapurna Studios was founded by legendary Telugu actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao and is a leading provider of various production facilities, including sound stages, outdoor sets, editing and sound recording theatres to the Telugu entertainment industry.

Bharti, Softbank Corp in mobile internet joint venture

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Bharti Enterprises and Softbank Corp., the parent corporation for one of Japan's leading internet company groups, today said they had formed a 50:50 joint venture to focus on mobile internet.

The joint venture, Bharti Softbank Holdings Pte Ltd (BSB), will actively participate in the mobile internet ecosystem’s growth in India, with an emphasis on three key areas: Social Media, Gaming and e-Commerce, a press release from the company said.

BSB aims to further accelerate the pace of development of India’s mobile internet market, which, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, had over 850 million mobile subscribers as of July, 2011, the release said.

“India, which has emerged as the second largest mobile market in the world, stands at the cusp of another revolution – mobile internet,” said Mr. Kavin Bharti Mittal, BSB’s Head of Strategy & New Product Development.

“With a fast growing economy, a large youth population and access to cheaper and faster data, there is a unique opportunity to build services ground up for mobile, especially in a country where the first screen for most is a mobile device. We are delighted to partner with SoftBank, whose vast experience in this area will help us build and invest in services for India," he said.

“Over the decades, SoftBank has endeavoured to develop new markets for Internet businesses, starting from the U.S., China and now India,” said Mr. Atsushi Taira, a Director of BSB.

“I believe that through the mobile internet, we can change people’s lives in India and empower each one of them to contribute to society’s exponential growth. I am very excited to be a part of this vision and delighted to have Bharti, with its unparalleled vision, knowledge and experience with emerging markets, as our partner. This partnership represents a significant step in SoftBank’s journey towards becoming No. 1 in the mobile internet industry.”

Bharti Enterprises, headed by Sunil Bharti Mittal, has interests in telecom, agri business, retail and manufacturing. Bharti Airtel, a group company, is a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 19 countries across Asia and Africa.

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Message from PM to all schools on National Education Day on Nov 11

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An evocative message from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, addressed to schoolchildren across the country, will be read out by the head teachers on November 11 - National Education Day - in the school assembly as part of a nationwide campaign about the Right to Education.

The message from the Prime Minister in all major languages, along with a covering letter from Human Resouce Development Minister Kapil Sibal, will be mailed to all 13 lakh elementary school in the country.

The function will be attended by children, teachers, management committee members and local authorities, an official press release said.

The event will be the starting point for a year-long campaign for making schools RTE compliant. The approach for this includes:

• State level meetings with national and state peoples’ networks, youth organizations and civil society organizations to participate in this massive national effort.

• Working Group consisting of Government and non-Government persons to carry forward the work at the State level.

• State Working Groups to identify around 30 volunteers in each of the 6000 blocks of the country.

• Block level volunteers to split into 10 groups of 3 persons each to visit all the 13 lakh schools.

• Carry the message of RTE and help the school plan how it would transform into an RTE-compliant school in the course of the next year.

At a meeting of State Education Ministers on Community Mobilisation and Public Awareness for RTE here yesterday, Mr Sibal said there was need for a sustained campaign to create awareness in every school, among those who need to be brought into school and among those who implement the Right to Education Act as to the various provisions of this Act.

He stressed that the Central and State Governments had to work together so that the RTE did not falter.

Mr Sibal outlined some of the work undertaken as part of the RTE in the country. Stating that 20 States had notified rules, he pointed out that in states which had not done so, it was the children who were suffering.

He said that the teachers’ eligibility test had been undertaken and eight years academic cycle has been brought in by the states. But he emphasized on the continuing need for the Government and civil society to carry the message that education is a right to all people.

The community mobilization and public awareness programme for RTE will commence from November 11 when a a national event will be held at Nuh in Mewat in Haryana.

Similarly, events are expected to be held in every state and district of the country on that day.

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Govt. issues advisory for students going for courses in CIS/Eurasia region

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The Government today advised Indian students planning to pursue courses in the CIS/Eurasia region to satisfy themselves about physical safety and living conditions, standards of education, recognition of degrees and certificates and other factors before taking a decision.

An advisory issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said students should also check the general credentials offering the courses and also the prevailing atmosphere at those universities and institutions in question.

The advisory was issued after it came to the notice of the Ministry that a number of Indian students were either pursuing or planning to take up a range of short-term (upto three years or less) courses, including medical courses, at various universities and institutes in some countries of the Eurasia/CIS region.

India accords reception to Sheikh Hasina at Tin Bigha corridor crossing point

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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today crossed the Tin Bigha Corridor through India to pay an official visit to the Bangladeshi enclaves of Dahagram and Angarpota.

Later, she crossed back into her country through the Pathgram area, an official press release said here today.

Since this was for the first time that a Bangladesh Prime Minister was passing through the Indian territory by road, the Government of India decided to accord a brief reception to her at the crossing point.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Minister of State for Home Jitendra Singh, accompanied by senior officers of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Border Security Force, received her at the corridor.

Camlin reconstitutes Board after Kokuyo of Japan takes 50.74% stake

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Stationery major Camlin Limited today said it had reconstituted its Board by appointing Directors from its new Japanese joint venture partners, Kokuyo S&T Co. Ltd.

On May 30, the two companies had announced a joint venture agreement under which Kokuyo S&T Co, a subsidiary of Kokuyo Ltd, has acquired 50.74 per cent of the paid-up equity share capital of the joint venture company.

A press release from the company said its Board had, at its meeting today, adopted a resolution on the new management and companyname, along with a new corporate logo. The company will now be rechristened as Kokuyo Camlin Ltd.

Railways introduce Real-time Train Information System for selected trains

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The Indian Railways have decided to open the Real-time Train Information System (RTIS) to the public in a few trains to begin with.

The GPS-based train tracking system has been jointly developed by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur to overcome the limitations of the existing Train Running Information System.

The system is working successfully in a number of trains, an official press release said.

The trains for which the information will be available to the public, to start with, are 12301 Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani, 12302 New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani, 12305 Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani, 12306 New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani, 12313 Sealdah-New Delhi Rajdhani, 12314 New Delhi-Sealdah Rajdhani, 12951 Mumbai Central-New Delhi Rajdhani, 12952 New Delhi-Mumbai Central Rajdhani, 12953 Mumbai Central-Nizamuddin August Kranti Rajdhani, 12954 Nizamuddin-Mumbai Central August Kranti Rajdhani, 12003 Lucknow-New Delhi Shatabdi and 12004 New Delhi-Lucknow Shatabdi.

The system will provide to the public and passengers information such as train location, running position (whether it is running on time or late and by how much), and location with respect to the next stop in terms of kms.

This information will be available on the Simran website. Public may also get the train running information through SMS by sending a text message " <train number>" to mobile number 09415139139.

The release said the Ministry of Railways has decided to implement RTIS to track all trains, passenger as well as freight trains. For this, a work has been approved in Railway Budget 2011 at a cost of Rs. 110 crore. The project is likely to be completed by December 2012, it said.

At present, train information is disseminated through telephone number 139 with the existing Train Information System, which is dependent on manual collection and feeding of data and has some limitations, the release added.

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Advani slams UPA for delay in creation of separate state of Telanganga

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Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani today said the demand for a separate state of Telangana to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh was "very legitimate" and demanded that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government bring a Bill in Parliament in the coming winter session for this purpose.

Addressing a press conference at Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh as part of his nationwide Jan Chetna Yatra, Mr Advai said the BJP would extend its full cooperation in both Houses of Parliament to the Bill. "Any delay is simply not acceptable," he said.

IBSA Trade Ministers decide to hold annual trilateral meeting

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The Trade Ministers of India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) met in Pretoria on the sidelines of the IBSA Summit yesterday and decided to hold an annual trilateral meeting to further enhance trade among the three countries.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who represented India at the meeting, offered to host the first such meeting in New Delhi in early March 2012. The dates are to be finalised through diplomatic channels, an official press release said.

According to the release, intra-IBSA trade has done very well despite the economic slowdown of 2008 and its aftershocks, including the prevailing uncertainties in the Eurozone.

Yeddyurappa taken back to jail after being discharged from hospital

Former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who was arrested four days ago for his alleged involvement in a land scam, was on Wednesday discharged from the state-run Victoria Hospital here at his own request and taken back to the Parappana Agrahara jail.

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Former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who was arrested four days ago for his alleged involvement in a land scam, was today discharged from the state-run Victoria Hospital here at his own request and taken back to the Parappana Agrahara jail.

Doctors at the hospital said Mr Yeddyurappa, who was admitted there yesterday evening after being discharged from the Jayadeva Institute of Cardiological Sciences and Research, had refused to take any treatment, apparently hurt by media reports which suggested that he was hopping from hospital to hospital to escape remaining in prison.

Slipper hurled at Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal in Lucknow

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A man hurled a slipper at well-known Right to Information (RTI) activist Arvind Kejriwal, who is a key member of social activist Anna Hazare's team that is campaigning for a strong Jan Lokpal Bill, when he reached Jhule Lal Park, the venue of a public meeting, in Lucknow this evening.

Mr Kejriwala was not hurt in the attack. The man, identified as Jitendra Pathak, was immediately overpowered and detained by the police.

The reports said Pathak was waiting near the dais and rushed towards Mr Kejriwal when he stepped out of his car.

The incident came just six days after another important member of Team Anna, senior lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, was beaten up by three youths, said to be members of the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena in his chamber in New Delhi.

Mr Kejriwal had then said that he feared that he might be attacked, too, by elements unhappy with Team Anna's campaign against corruption in high places.

Mr Bhushan was attacked for some remarks he made on the Kashmir issue. The remarks have caused discomfort within Team Anna, with Mr Hazare himself holding a press conference and distancing himself from Mr Bhushan's views. Mr Hazare reiterated that Kashmir was an integral part of India.

There also appear to be misgivings among some members of Team Anna about its campaign against the Congress in the recent Lok Sabha bye-election in Hisar, Haryana. There are many who feel that the campaign must steer clear of party politics.

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Five judges appointed to Patna High Court

The President has appointed Mr Justice Rakesh Kumar, Mr Justice Birendra Prasad Verma, Mr Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh, Mr Justice Akhilesh Chandra, and Mr Justice Mungeshwar Sahoo, Additional Judges, as Judges of the Patna High Court.

An official press release said the appointments, in that order of seniority, would be with effect from the date they assume charge of their respective office.

The President has also appointd Ms Mukta Gupta to be an Additional Judge of the Delhi High Court for a period of two years with effect from October 23, 2011.

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