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Google Editor's Picks

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

Santosh Sivan's Urumi to open Indian Panorama 2011 at IFFI

Santosh Sivan's Malayalam film Urumi has been chosen as the opening film of the Indian Panorama a the 42nd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2011 to be held in Goa from November 23 to December 3.

In all, the jury for feature films, headed by renowned filmmaker Sai Paranjpye, has selected 23 films out of a total of 118 eligible entries for the Panorama. Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu, directed by Salim Ahamed, which won the Best Feature Film award at the recent 58th National Film Awards, will be the 24th film in the Panorama, having received a direct entry.

PM calls for expansion of UN Security Council to reflect present-day reality

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday the United Nations Security Council must be enlarged in order to reflect present-day reality and to make it representative and effective in responding to global challenges.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at IBSA Restricted Meeting of Heads of State/Government, at Pretoria, South Africa on October 18, 2011. The Union Minister for External Affairs,  S.M. Krishna and the Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Textiles,  Anand Sharma are also seen.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at IBSA Restricted Meeting of Heads of State/Government, at Pretoria, South Africa on October 18, 2011. The Union Minister for External Affairs, S.M. Krishna and the Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Textiles, Anand Sharma are also seen.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must be enlarged in order to reflect present-day reality and to make it representative and effective in responding to global challenges.

"We stand united in our efforts to address the deficit in global governance," he said in his opening statement at the plenary session of the 5th India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit in Pretoria.

Dr Singh noted that the visit of an IBSA delegation to Damascus in Syria in August this year and their interaction with the Syrian leaership demonstrated the political role which IBSA could usefully play. "We should build upon this experience," he said.

India has for long been an apsirant for a permanent seat in the UNSC, as have been South Africa and Brazil.

Dr Singh also said that the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and recessionary trends in the traditional engines of the global economy = the United States, Europe and Japan -were sending negative signals to world financial and capital markets which are showing signs of distress.

"Developing countries cannot remain untouched by the negative impacts of these developments. Their ability to address their developmental challenges has been adversely affected," he said.

He hoped that effective and early steps would be taken by Europe and other advanced economies to calm the capital and financial markets and prevent the global economy from slipping into a double dip recession.

"The G-20, of which all of us are members, has played an important role in pursuing the agenda of reform of international monetary and financial institutions. We should coordinate our positions in the run up to the G-20 Summit in Cannes to ensure that the priorities of the developing economies are adequately reflected.," he said.

Dr Singh said the year 2011 had special salience on account of the fact that all three IBSA countries are Members of the UNSC.

"We have demonstrated our cohesion and coordination on various issues under discussion in the United Nations, particularly in the context of developments in West Asia and North Africa," he said.

The summit is being chaired by South African President Jacob Zuma and is also being attended, for the first time, by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Dr Singh pointed out that the grouping derived its strength and global influence from the fact that it consists of three major developing democracies located in three continents.

"We share the principles of pluralism, democracy, tolerance and multiculturalism.
We have similar views on many global issues such as the primacy of the development agenda, a just and equitable international order, a multipolar world, a rule based international trading system, climate change and reform of the United Nations," he said.

He noted that their cooperation was underpinned by three pillars - political consultation and coordination; multi-sectoral trilateral cooperation; and execution of development projects in third countries through the Trust Fund.

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"The IBSA framework is unique because it goes beyond just government-to-government interaction. It touches the lives of our people by facilitating dialogue among civil society and other important sections of society," he said.

The Prime Minister said the IBSA Forum had also helped the three countries in strengthening their own bilateral relations with each other.

"Through its 16 Working Groups and 6 people-to-people fora IBSA has brought together our officials, technical experts, business representatives, intellectuals and academicians. Despite the geographic distance between us, our cooperation has grown in all areas. Yet there is a lot more that IBSA can do to bring tangible benefits to our peoples," he said.

He said the IBSA Trust Fund is a novel initiative, through which they have been able to share their developmental experience with other developing countries in the true spirit of South – South cooperation. He said IBSA's ownership of the projects executed under the Trust Fund should be strengthened so that their focus is brought bak to what was originally envisaged - hunger and poverty alleviation.

Dr Singh said the Fund could consider new projects in areas such as agriculture and agro-processing, environment and energy, including new energy resources. He said these would help their partner countries in addressing the challenges of food and energy security. The IBSA Trust Fund projects could also usefully focus on education and skill development, which is a key requirement of almost all developing countries, he said.

He noted that, despite the global economic slowdown, the three economies had registered a steady growth rate and that intra-IBSA trade was almost touching the $ 20 billion mark.

He said this augured well for realising their target of $ 25 billion by 2015 and for being even more ambitious.

Dr Singh said the early conclusion of India-SACU-Mercosur Trilateral Trade Arrangement would give a boost to South-South trade. With the conclusion of this trilateral arrangement, Africa could emerge as a bridge linking South Asia and Latin America, he said.

He said IBSA coopeation on environment and climate change issues was important. He said the BASIC Group had proved to be an effective forum for projecting the viewpoint of the developing world. He said the grouping should maintain the momentum of coordination and consultation in the run up to Durban.

Dr Singh said the issue of IBSA’s outreach was one of the important items on the agenda. "IBSA has deservedly received considerable attention since its establishment in 2003. It is important to further consolidate our achievements and maintain the unique identity of IBSA. We should preserve the common principles and values we stand for," he said.

'India remains committed and willing to work closely with its IBSA partners in our collective endeavour to further deepen our cooperation," he added as he extended to the other leaders to visit India for the next IBSA Summit to be hosted by India in 2013.

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Power shortages may cause 35-40% industrial loss in NCR: ASSOCHAM

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The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) today said power shortages may reduce industrial production in the National Capital Region (NCR) by nearly 35-40% due to power and water shortages and the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would be severely impacted.

According to the industry body, it had conducted an internal assessment on "Increase in industrial losses due to power shortages",

It said the feedback received directly from the industrial units revealed that current electricity demand of different industrial locations in the entire Ghaziabad area had gone beyond 400 MW against availability of not more than 200 MW.

Advani says countdown for demise of UPA has begun

Senior BJP leader L K Advani addressing a public meeting during his Jan Chetna Yatra in Nagpur on October 18, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Senior BJP leader L K Advani addressing a public meeting during his Jan Chetna Yatra in Nagpur on October 18, 2011. UNI PHOTO

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani today said the results of the October 13 bye-elections in different states, were an indication that the countdown for the demise of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had begun.

"After I started my Jan Chetna Yatra many bye-elections were held in different parts of the country, both for the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabha. The writing on the wall is clear. The Congress and its allies lost everywhere," Mr Advani said at a press conference here this morning.

Mr Advani is currently in the city on the eighth day of his countrywide "yatra" against corruption and black money.

NABH in pact with 3M India to help reduce infection risks in hospitals

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The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) and 3M India have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote best practices and standards in hospitals to prevent healthcare associated infections and promote quality care for patients in India.

The alliance will help prevent and control infection related morbidity and mortality as well as reduce the cost of care linked to healthcare-associated infection, a press release from NABH said here.

NABH is a constituent board of the Quality Council of India, set up to establish and operate an accreditation programme for healthcare organizations, while 3M India Ltd is the Indian arm of 3M Corporation, a company with a 100-year-old innovation legacy.

Quraishi urges political parties to follow instructions on election expenditure

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Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S Y Quraishi today urged all political parties to exercise self-restraint on election expenditure and strictly adhere to the new set of instructions in this regard.

He was speaking at a one-day workshop for political parties on Election Expenditure Monitoring with representatives of all political parties of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, where general elections are due.

The workshop, held under the auspices of the Commission’s India International Institute of Democracy & Election Management (IIIDEM) and was the first course conducted by the newly created institution.

Manufacture, sale and distribution of Letrozole suspended

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The Central Government today said it had suspended the manufacture, sale and distribution of Letrozole, used for induction of ovulation in anovulatory infertility, with immediate effect.

An official press release said this had been done in exercise of the powers conferred by section 26A of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940 (23 of 1940).

"The Central Government is satisfied that it is necessary and expedient to regulate by way of suspension of manufacture, sale and distribution of the drug for the said indication in the public interest," the release by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said.

"The Central Government is satisfied that the use of the drug letrozole for induction of ovulation in anovulatory infertility is likely to involve risk to human beings and safer alternatives to the said drugs are available," the release added.

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PM reaches Pretoria to attend 5th India, Brazil, South Africa Summit

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached Pretoria on MOnday to attend the 5th India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit there on Tuesdy with focus on coordination among the three countries in the United Nations Security Council, among other issues.

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached Pretoria today to attend the 5th India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit there tomorrrow with focus on coordination among the three countries in the United Nations Security Council, among other issues.

Dr Singh was received at the Waterkloof Air Force Base at Pretoria by South African Minister for Social Justice Bathabile Dlamini and other senior officials.

The summit will also consider other issues such as sustainable development, the forthcoming meetings of the Conference of Parties under the UNFCCC and the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol being hosted by South Africa later this year, the Rio+20 Conference being hosted by Brazil in 2012 and other matters related to deepening of cooperation under IBSA.

Minor quake recorded in Sikkim

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, was recorded in Sikkim this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

An IMD bulletin said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.3 degrees North and longitude 88.4 degrees East, occurred at 1834 hours at a focal depth of five km.

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ECI offers one-time allotment of common symbol to candidates of unrecognised parties

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) today said it had made certain additional provisions in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, to provide for one-time concession of allotment of common symbol to candidates sponsored by registered unrecognised political parties during a general election.

The Commission has also liberalized the criteria for recognition of parties as State Parties.

Under the provisions of the Symbols Order, candidates put up by registered unrecognized political parties at elections were hitherto allotted election symbols by the Returning Officers of the constituencies concerned after the last date for withdrawal of candidature as per the choice of symbol given by the candidates from the list of free symbols.

Mukherjee urges ADB to help sustain growth with studies on skills, innovation

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaking at the celebrations of 25 years of India-ADB Partnership, in New Delhi on October 17, 2011.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaking at the celebrations of 25 years of India-ADB Partnership, in New Delhi on October 17, 2011.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today called upon the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to cover new ground through study and research on how Asian countries could help harness skills and innovations for sustaining growth.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the ADB-India Partnership here, Mr Mukherjee said such studies could cover issues like how Asian socities could pioneer innovations and technological change and how social protection schemes could be better designed and inter-woven with an inclusive development agenda.

"Further, ADB’s studies should cover all countries of Asia and not confined only to ADB members. West Asia and the Gulf are important growth poles in Asia.

"ADB should analyze developments in these nations and incorporate them into comparative studies with the rest of Asia, to enable a holistic understanding of trends and development patterns in the Asian region," he stressed.

HJC supremo Kuldeep Bishnoi wins Hisar LS bye-election

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Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) supremo Kuldeep Bishnoi today won the Hisar Lok Sabha bye-election, defeating his nearest rival Ajay Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) by a margin of 6323 votes.

In the results declared this afternoon after counting of votes in the October 13 bye-election was taken up this morning, Mr Bishnoi, who was the candidate of the HJC-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine, polled 355941 votes against Mr Chautala's 349618 votes.

Congress candidate Jai Parkash, a former Union Minister who has represented the constituency thrice in the past, finished a distant third with 149785 votes.

Bishnoi is the son of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal , whose death in June necessitated the bye-election.

Counting of votes began at 0800 hours today amidst tight security arrangements. The district administration had imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in the radius of 100 metres around the mini-Secretariat where the counting of votes was held.

Mr Chautala is the son of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. In all, there were 40 candidates in the fray.

The Anna Hazare factor had become a significant feature in the run-up to the bye-election as Team Anna, led by Mr Arvind Kejriwal, appealed to the electorate not to vote for the Congress as it has so far failed to deliver on the Jan Lokpal Bill. Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi also addressed public meetings in the constituency.

Interestingly, Team Anna urged the electorate to vote for any candidate except the Congress nominee.

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Uday Kumar Varma is new Secretary, I&B Ministry

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Mr Uday Kumar Varma, presently Secretary, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, has been appointed as the new Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Mr Varma, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 1976 batch (Madha Pradesh cadre), will succeed Mr Raghu Menon, who retired some time ago.

An official press release said Mr P K Pradhan, IAS (WB:77), presently Special Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, has been appointed as Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, in the vacancy of Mr K. Chandramouli, who has retired.

Telangana strike evokes partial response in Hyderabad

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The strike called by the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), which is spearheading the demand for a separate state, today evoked mixed response in the city while normal life was affected in other Telangana districts in Andhra Pradesh.

A day's "bandh" was called by the TJAC in protest against alleged police "excesses" against Telangana activists and Congress MPs who took part in the rail blockade organised by them earlier this month.

Government offices continued to be affected as the Telangana employees continued their "Sakala Janula" strike which entered the 35th day today. While banks and insurance firms reported thin attendance, private offices were functioning normally.

TRS nominee wins Banswada assembly bye-election in AP

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Cashing in on the pro-Telangana wave, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) candidate Pocharam Srinivas Reddy today won the Banswada Assembly bye-election by a huge margin of 49,899 votes.

Mr Reddy trounced his nearest Congress candidate Sangam Srinivas Goud, former Mandal Parishad President of Varni in Nizamabad District, State Election Commission incharge CEO Fahim Sabari told UNI after the result was declared officially.

The TRS candidate, who contested the election after resigning from the TDP in support of the demand for a separate state of Telangana, retained the seat. Earlier, he had won the seat thrice.

HJC-BJP nominee Kuldeep Bishnoi leading by 29,700 votes in Hisar LS bye-election

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Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) supremo Kuldeep Bishnoi was leading by more than 29,700 votes against his nearest rival Ajay Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) as counting of votes cast in the October 13 bye-election to the Hisar Lok Sabha seat progressed today.

Bishnoi is the candidate of the HJC-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine and son of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal , whose death in June necessitated the bye-election.

The Congress candidate Jai Parkash, a former Union Minister who has represented the constituency thrice in the past, was trailing way behind in third place, having polled only 82,569 votes against 226,854 garnered by Bishnoi and 197127 by Chautala, according to counting trends available at 1215 hours.

Counting of votes began at 0800 hours amidst tight security arrangements and the result is expected to be declared by 1400 hours. The district administration had imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in the radius of 100 metres around the mini-Secretariat where the counting of votes is being conducted.

Mr Chautala is the son of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. In all, there are 40 candidates in the fray.

The Anna Hazare factor had become a significant feature in the run-up to the bye-election as Team Anna, led by Mr Arvind Kejriwal, appealed to the electorate not to vote for the Congress as it had so far failed to deliver on the Jan Lokpal Bill. Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi also addressed public meetings in the constituency.

Interestingly, Team Anna urged the electorate to vote for any candidate except the Congress nominee.

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Suspended Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt granted bail

Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt being received by family and friends at his house after he was granted bail by a local court in Ahmedabad on October 17, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt being received by family and friends at his house after he was granted bail by a local court in Ahmedabad on October 17, 2011. UNI PHOTO

A local court here today granted bail to suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who was arrested 17 days ago for allegedly coercing a former subordinate constable to file a false affidavit relating to the 2002 post-Godhra violence in Gujarat.

Additional Sessions Judge V K Vyas granted bail to Bhatt on the condition that he would cooperate in the investigations and make himself present whenever called.

Mr Bhatt was asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs 10,000. The judge also told him he should not make telephone calls to witnesses, not leave the country without the court's permission and deposit his passport with the court.

Bhatt was held in the Sabarmati Jail here since his arrest on September 30 in connection with the first information report (FIR) filed by constable K D Pant that the officer had threatened him and forced him to sign a false affidavit with regard to his presence in the February 27, 2002 meeting called by Chief Minister Narendra Modi after the Godhra train burning incident.

At that meeting, Mr Modi allegedly directed the police and bureaucrats to allow Hindus to vent their anger against Muslims, according to Mr Bhatt.

The 1988 batch IPS officer, who is of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) rank, had moved the bail application, which the state government had opposed. Another court had rejected the state government's application for police remand for Bhatt. The state government has filed a revision remand application in that matter and is likely to appeal against the grant of bail, too.

While the state government opposed Bhatt's bail plea on the ground that he could influence witnesses, his advocate I H Sayed had argued that the officer had been arrested for political reasons and that it was aimed at getting hold of and destroying the alleged evidence that he is supposed to have collected against the Chief Minister with regard to the 2002 violence.

After conclusion of the arguments from both the sides on October 12, the judge had reserved his order till today.

Bhatt's arrest had evoked widespread criticism from civil rights groups and others across the country.

Bhatt, who took on the Modi government by filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court alleging its complicity in the 2002 riots, had been suspended by the state government in August this year for unauthorised absence from his present posting as Principal of Police Training School at Junagadh.

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Polling begins in Tamil Nadu for local bodies

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Polling in the first phase of elections to elect local body representatives in Tamil Nadu began amid tight security this morning.

Reports received here said the polling, which began at 0800 hrs, was going on peacefully.

In several booths, the polling process was affected initially due to some technical hitches in electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Reports said the polling was delayed in some of the booths due to late installation of web cameras as per the High Court order.

The civic polls, being held after five years, have changed the political alignment in the state with almost all the major parties deciding to go it alone.

HJC-BJP candidate Kuldeep Bishnoi leading in Hisar LS bye-election

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Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) supremo Kuldeep Bishnoi was leading by more than 21,500 votes against his nearest rival Ajay Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) as counting of votes cast in the October 13 bye-election to the Hisar Lok Sabha seat progressed today.

Bishnoi is the candidate of the HJC-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine and son of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal , whose death in June necessitated the bye-election.

The Congress candidate Jai Parkash, a former Union Minister who has represented the constituency thrice in the past, was trailing way behind in third place, according to counting trends available around noon.

Counting of votes began at 0800 hours amidst tight security arrangements and the result is expected to be declared later this afternoon. The district administration had imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in the radius of 100 metres around the mini-Secretariat where the counting of votes is being conducted.

Mr Chautala is the son of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. In all, there are 40 candidates in the fray.

The Anna Hazare factor had become a significant feature in the run-up to the bye-election as Team Anna, led by Mr Arvind Kejriwal, appealed to the electorate not to vote for the Congress as it had so far failed to deliver on the Jan Lokpal Bill. Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi also addressed public meetings in the constituency.

Interestingly, Team Anna urged the electorate to vote for any candidate except the Congress nominee.

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Bangladeshi girl awaits repatriation in Andhra Pradesh hospital

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A Bangladeshi girl, convalescing at the government general hospital here with a fractured leg, after her fall from the running train along with her mother and brother who lost their lives ten days ago, is awaiting repatriation to her country.

Seven-year-old Bysagi's condition is pathetic as she is not aware that her mother Janu Begum (28) and brother Jayat(12) died in the mishap on October 5 and that their bodies are lying in the mortuary in the adjoining block.

She cannot understand Telugu and speaks only her native language which no one is acquainted with here.

On the morning of October 5, a railway gangman during his routine inspection of the track found the girl along with the dead bodies of her mother and brother near the outer signal of Pithapuram railway station.

Their identity was established with the help of the Bank pass book, insurance card and the Bangladesh nationality photocard.

The railway police rushed the injured girl to the government general hospital orthopaedic ward and the bodies to the mortuary. It is presumed that they might have slipped from Bilaspur Express while travelling sitting at the door.

The district administration has sent communication to the Bangladesh mission in Delhi about the incident and is waiting for someone from Bangladesh to come and take the girl back home.

Railway police sources said even after ten days there was no word from the Bangladesh mission.

The girl though in distress and facing an uncertain future, is being looked after by the hospital staff.

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Flexible packaging market likely to reach Rs 22,950 crore by 2015: ASSOCHAM

More domestic companies are shifting to eco-friendly packaging with many consumers shifting to sustainable and green packaging amid rising environmental concerns, according to a recent study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

The sustainable packaging sector is growing at a faster pace of about 25 per cent per year compared to the overall packaging industry which is growing at about 20 per cent annually, according to a study on Domestic Green Packaging Industry prepared by the industry body.

Nepalese PM Baburam Bhattarai to visit India from October 20-23

Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai will pay an official visit to India from October 20-23 that will provide an opportunity for both sides to discuss issues of mutual interest and ways to further strengthen the bilateral ties between the two countries.

The visit, at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will be Dr Bhattarai's first bilateral visit abroad and his first official visit to India after taking charge as the Prime Minister of Nepal.

Earlier, the two Prime Ministers had met on the margins of the 66th United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 24.

During his visit, Dr. Bhattarai would hold talks with Dr Singh. He will also call on President Pratibha Patil and meet other Indian dignitaries, a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said.

He would also interact with representatives of Indian business community, civil society and intellectuals, the release added.

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Escorts ties up with Ingeteam of Spain for railway traction systems

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Engineering major Escorts Limited, a leading manufacturer of critical railway components, has signed an exclusive agreement with Ingeteam Traction of Spain to provide world class traction systems to Indian Railways.

The product has large scale application on Electric Locomotives, Diesel-Electric Locomotives, Diesel Electrical Multiple Units (DEMU) and Electric MultipleUnits (EMU) of Indian Railways, a press release from Escorts said. The product can also be used on metro rail coaches, it said.

The agreement marks Escorts' entry in the niche domain of rail traffic systems. To begin with, Escorts will supply Traction Control Converter (TCC) and Locomotive Control Converter (LCC) with accessories for DEMU application on Indian Railways.

Idea of IBSA taken root, welcomed by people of India, Brazil, South Africa: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will on Monday morning for South Africa to attend the 5th India-Brazil-South Afria (IBSA) Summit that will be held in Pretoria on October 18 with focus on coordination among the three countries in the United Nations Security Council, among other issues.

File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will leave here tomorrow morning for South Africa to attend the 5th India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit that will be held in Pretoria on October 18 with focus on coordination among the three countries in the United Nations Security Council, among other issues.

The summit will also consider other issues such as sustainable development, the forthcoming meetings of the Conference of Parties under the UNFCCC and the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol being hosted by South Africa later this year, the Rio+20 Conference being hosted by Brazil in 2012 and other matters related to deepening of cooperation under IBSA.

"The IBSA Dialogue Forum has matured considerably over the years. There is greater cooperation across a wider canvas. Above all, the idea of three large developing democracies, Brazil, India and South Africa working together in a highly complex global environment has taken root, and has received universal welcome by our peoples," Dr Singh said in a pre-departure statement issued here today.

The summit will be chaired by South African President Jacob Zuma and will also be attended by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Dr Singh said it was a happy coincidence that during 2011 India, Brazil and South Africa are members of the United Nations Security Council.

"We have shown significant cohesiveness and coordination in our approach to issues under discussion in the Security Council," he said.

Dr Singh said he also looked forward to an exchange of views with IBSA partners on the current global economic and financial situation especially in the context of the forthcoming G 20 Summit in France. "We expect to issue an IBSA Joint Declaration at the Summit," he said.

The Prime Minister said he also looked to holding bilateral meetings with President Zuma and President Rousseff, during his stay in Pretoria, to exchange views on global, regional and bilateral issues of mutual interest.

Dr Singh's official delegation will include External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, Principal Secretary to the PM, Mr Pulok Chatterjee, and Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Madusudhan Ganapathi.

Briefing journalists last week about the visit, Mr Ganapathi said the format of the summit envisages a restricted Working Meeting followed by a Plenary Meeting among the three leaders.

IBSA came into being as a Dialogue Forum in June 2003 at a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India, Brazil and South Africa. The first IBSA Summit took place in September 2006 in Brazil. Three subsequent summits have been held in Pretoria in October 2007, in New Delhi in October 2008 and in Brazil in April 2010.

In the run up to the current 5th IBSA Summit, the Focal Point Meetings of senior officials will take place in Pretoria on October 14. The Foreign Ministers of the three IBSA countries will hold their Ministerial Dialogue on October 17, which will be followed by th summit on October 18.

Mr Ganapathi said IBSA was a unique forum which brings together three large democracies from three different continents facing common aspirations and challenges.

"India, Brazil and South Africa are pluralistic societies and developing nations. The three countries occupy an important position in their respective regions as also globally. All three are also members of G 20, BRICS and BASIC," he said.

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He said cooperation in IBSA was perceived on three broad fronts. These include: first, as a forum for consultation and coordination on significant political issues; second, it is seen as an instrument for trilateral collaboration on concrete areas and projects through sixteen Working Groups and six People to People Forum; and third, IBSA is involved in assisting other developing countries by developing projects in these countries through the IBSA Trust Fund.

The IBSA Working Groups include those relating to agriculture, economic (trade and industry), social development, education, environment, information society, public service administration, human settlement, transport, defence, energy, science and technology, health, heads of revenue administration, culture and tourism.

The six People-to-People fora include the Academic Forum, the Editors Forum, Local Government Forum, the Parliamentary Forum, Small Business Forum and Women’s Forum.

Mr Ganapathi said some of the Working Groups have already held their sessions and some Working Group Meetings are on-going. The meeting of the Women’s Forum is currently being held in Durban. The Business Form will meet in Durban on October 16 and 17.

"Thus, in the run-up to the summit, we would notice that the Working Groups and the People-to-People or Civil Society Forum would have held their meetings. This would naturally engage the leaders comprehensively during the summit," he said.

To further concretize cooperation among themselves, the meeting of the senior officials in New York on September 22 identified areas to be led by their countries. This would include India overseeing cooperation in health and science and technology including space sciences and applications; Brazil in agriculture and environment; and South Africa in trade and investment and tourism.

The outcome of the discussions in the working groups and the different fora will be reported to the leaders during the plenary session. The leaders will address a press conference following the Plenary Meeting.

A trilateral India-Brazil-South Africa MoU for cooperation among the diplomatic academies of the three countries will be signed in the presence of the leaders of the three countries.

Mr Ganapathi also spoke about the steps taken by the IBSA Trust Fund aimed at identifying and executing replicable and scalable projects in developing countries for capacity building.

Projects have been conceived in Haiti, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Burundi, Palestine, Cambodia, Laos, Sierra Leone, Vietnam, Sudan and South Sudan. IBSA works in close coordination with UNDP in monitoring and delivering these projects, he said.

"The IBSA process has significantly contributed to a positive feeling of friendship and working atmosphere at the level of the leadership, Government officials and popular levels of the three counties. More importantly, IBSA today is seen as an important forum by various international and regional organisations.

"The success of IBSA has a demonstrative effect by most vividly reflecting the fact that South-South cooperation is feasible and possible beyond the conventional areas of exchange of experts and training. IBSA’s active engagement in contributing to solutions for issues of a global nature, would also demonstrate the significance and importance to developing countries of the utility of engaging themselves with countries of the South," he said.

Mr Ganapathi pointed out that this year's summit was taking place against an important background, all the three countries India, Brazil South Africa are non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

"You would recall the visit of an IBSA delegation to Syria a couple of months ago and coordination of the IBSA countries’ position in the vote on the Syria Resolution in the UNSC," he added.

NNN

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