Woman vegetable vendor stabbed to death on Mumbai train

Woman vegetable vendor killed on Mumbai train
A woman vegetable vendor was stabbed to death by an unidentified man on a suburban train while she was on her way to Borivali from Virar in the early hours of this morning, police said.
The victim, identified as Panga Andher, 55, had boarded the luggage compartment of the Virar-Churchgate train at Virar at 0355 hours as per her daily routine.
According to Mr Deepak Devraj, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Government Railway Police, Western Railway, the woman used to by vegetables from Virar and sell them in the wholesale market at Borivali every day.
He said the woman, who was alone in the compartment, was attacked by someone with a sharp weapon while the train was between Nalasopara and Vasai stations. The police are not sure if there was more than person involved in the attack.
Hearing the woman's screams, women in the adjacent ladies' coach pulled the emergency chain and the train was stopped. When the motorman and a home guard went to the luggage compartment, they found the woman bleeding from injuries in her abdomen. By then, the assailant had jumped off the train from the other side and escaped.
The train was stopped at Vasai, where she was rushed the nearby Ravi Hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival.
Police are investigating the incident. 

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7 burnt alive as petrol tanker overturns near Thane on Surat-Mumbai highway

As many as seven persons were burnt alive when a petrol tanker on its way from Surat to Mumbai exploded in flames after oveturning at Charoti near Thane in Maharashtra today.
Police sources aid the mishap occurred at around 2.30 pm at a spot about 110 km from Thane.
Those killed three persons in the tanker and four passers-by, the sources said, adding that the bodies of the victims had been charred beyond recognition.
About seven others suffered injuries and have been admitted to the Civil Hospital in Thane for treatment. Apart from the tanker, some vehicles near it on the road were also affected by the flames, they said.
Fire tenders and ambulances were rushed to the spot from Thane and other nearby towns, the sources added.

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RBI Deputy Governor K C Chakrabarty seeks slightly earlier departure

Dr. Kamlesh Chandra Chakrabarty

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Deputy Governor K C Chakrabarty has sought  a slightly earlier departure, on April 25, than the scheduled end of his term on June 30 for personal reasons.
"The Reserve Bank is very grateful for his many years of excellent work in very difficult times. Dr. Chakrabarty always speaks his mind, and has been a very valuable guide for successive governors," a statement from the central bank said.
"In recent years, Dr. Chakrabarty has spearheaded the Reserve Bank’s move towards risk-based supervision. His experience as a banker has given him the ability to diagnose weaknesses in the system, and made him a forceful advocate for change," it said.
"I personally have benefited enormously from his advice," RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said.
A search is on for his successor, the statement added.

Four convicts in first Shakti Mills compound gang-rape case given life

Four get life sentence in Shakti Mills gangrape
A sessions court here today sentenced four convicts in the gang-rape of a call centre employee on July 31 last year in the Shakti Mills compound in Lower Parel in central Mumbai to imprisonment for life.
In a second case, involving the gang-rape of a photo-journalist in the same desolate area on August 22, in which four men - including three involved in the first case - were convicted, the court deferred the pronouncement of sentence to March 24.
Pronouncing the sentence, Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi described rape as a serious and brutal crime.
"The offence violates the victim and the society at large. It is also aiolation of the fundamental right of Right to Life and it should be kept in mind coupled with the fact that the offence of rape has caused agony on her mind," she said.
The court said the crime committed by the four convicts - Vijay Jadhav (19), Mohammad Qasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bengali (21), Mohammad Ansari (28) and Mohammad Ashfaque Shaikh - was not done on the spur of the moment but was a pre-meditated conspiracy.
After the judge pronounced the sentence, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam sought framing of additional charges on the three men -- Jadhav, Qasim Shaikh and Salim Ansari -- involved in the second case for repeated offence under section 376 (e) of the Indian Penal Code.
He pointed out that the maximum penalty for such a repeat offence was capital punishment.
The court then deferred the pronouncement of sentence in the second case to March 24.
The judge had yesterday convicted five men guilty in the two cases of gang-rape, including Siraj Khan, the fourth convict in the photo-journalist case.
Two minors, one in each case, will be dealt with separately by the Juvenile Justice Board.
The trial in both cases, which had led to a huge public outcry coming as they did just months after the horrific December 16 gang-rape case in Delhi, was put on a fast-track and they were heard on a day-to-day basis. Both cases were tried simultaneously.
The 23-year-old photo-journalist, who was working as a trainee with an English magazine, was gang-raped while she was on an assignment in the compound last August along with a male colleague. 
Three weeks earlier, the 19-year-old call centre employee was gang-raped in the same area when she was walking through the compound of the defunct mill as "short-cut" to the railway station with a male friend.
The photo-journalist had identified the accused in the incident. The call centre employee recognized the men who had assaulted her from the pictures released by the police in the photo-journalist's case.
After the two incidents came to light, the local authorities have cleared the desolate mill complex of the dense undergrowth and strengthened security in the area.

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Four injured as Mumbai local train derails near Titwala

At least four persons suffered injuries when four coaches of a suburban train, bound for Kasara from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), derailed today.
Central Railway officials said the mishap occurred between Titwala and Ambivli stations.
One of the four passengers had suffered grievous injuries, they said.

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Mumbai Indians to meet KKR in IPL 2014 opener on Apr 16 at Abu Dhabi

Defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the opening match of the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on April 16 at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
KKR had won the tournament in 2012.
At its meeting in Chennai earlier today, the IPL Governing Council confirmed that the first phase of the Pepsi IPL 2014 season matches will be played in the UAE from April 16-30.
A total of 20 matches will be played in three stadiums: the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi; the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium, Sharjah; and the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai. 
The match-schedule for the UAE leg can be seen here.
Pursuant to the initiative taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, many State Governments have indicated that IPL matches can be conducted in their respective states. 
"Based on the responses received so far, the BCCI believes that the Pepsi IPL 2014 can be conducted in India from the first week of May," a press release from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said, adding that the schedule for the remaining 40 matches would be announced in due course.
The BCCI had, on March 12, announced that the 2014 season of IPL would be played from April 16 to June 1, with the first leg to be staged in the UAE due to the Lok Sabha elections being held in India at the same time.
According to the schedule announced by the Election Commission, polling in the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha will be held on nine days between April 7 and May 12.
The Government had conveyed to BCCI that it would be difficult for it to ensure security for the IPL matches given the huge requirements of security forces for the peaceful conduct of the elections.
The 2009 edition of the IPL had been staged in South Africa because it coincided with the last Lok Sabha elections. This year, too, there was talk that the tournament would be held in South Africa, but the UAE finally got the nod.

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Reliance Jio to launch services across India using Viom Networks' towers

Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, today said it would launch its services across India using telecom tower infrastructure provided by Viom Networks.
Under a Master Services Agreement, Reliance Jio will use Viom Networks’ pan-India passive telecom infrastructure having a footprint of over 42,000 telecom towers.
"This agreement is in line with our mission of a pan-India launch spanning next-generation voice and data services and leveraging existing telecom infrastructure,” said Mr Sanjay Mashruwala, Managing Director, Reliance Jio.
“We look forward to partnering with Viom Networks for rolling out services across the country," he said.
Reliance Jio holds a pan-India unified license and is currently building a network to offer next generation high-speed data services. The company believes that the Indian market is highly underserviced. 
"There’s thus a deep demand undercurrent for reliable (4th generation) high speed internet connectivity, rich communication services, and various digital services on pan-India basis in key domains such as education, healthcare, security, financial services, government citizen interfaces and entertainment," he said.
"The mission therefore is to provide anytime, anywhere access to innovative and empowering digital content, applications and services, thereby propelling India into a global leadership league in the digital economy," he added.
“From a conventional tower company, we are transforming ourselves as an innovation-driven, data-centric infra solutions provider,” said Mr Syed Safawi, CEO, Viom Networks.
“We are delighted to partner with Reliance jio and offer our countrywide network infrastructure. Our consistent delivery of high network up time, on-time reliable project delivery capability, and optimal operation and a maintenance cost offer a great value package," he added.

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India's forex reserves up by $ 1.088 billion to $ 295.449 billion

India’s foreign exchange reserves increased by $1.088 billion to $295.449 billion in the week ended March 7, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here yesterday.
The reserves had increased by $954.6 million to $294.360 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement issued here yesterday , the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, increased by $ 1.070 billion to $ 267.972 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at the previous week's level of $ 20.978 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) increased by $ 12.6 million to $ 4.481 billion during the period.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went up by $ 5.7 million to $ 2.017 billion, the bulletin added.

Larsen & Toubro wins Rs 3655 crore road project in Qatar

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said it secured a prestigious international order worth Rs 3655 crore (2.187 billion Qatari riyals) for a major road project in Qatar.
The order was received by L&T Construction's Transportation Infrastructure Business from Ashgal, the Public Works Authority of Qatar, for the design and construction of the Al Wakrah Bypass Road (P015).
A press release from the company said the scope of work involved construction of an 11 km road consisting of 10 lanes and four future lane sections with additional collectors/distributor roads, frontage roads and ramps. 
The freeway will provide access to the existing and planned developments via five major interchanges comprising 20 bridges, 13 bicycle overpasses, 8 vehicular underpasses, 3 pedestrian bridges and 736 m long and 32 m wide vehicular tunnel works. 
State-of-the-art road furniture and other related utility works for potable water,  treated sewer effluent, drainage, electrical, intelligent transportation system, irrigation and landscaping are also part of the scope of work.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 32 months, the release said.
Al Wakrah Bypass is a major South-North freeway connecting the existing Al Wakrah - Mesaieed Road. This new freeway will be a continuation of an existing major urban North-South high speed corridor of Doha Expressway. At its southern end, the proposed bypass will intersect with the existing Al Wakrah - Mesaieed Road and it branches into two directions to the planned Doha Sea Port to the south and the Mesaieed Industrial area to the West. 
Mr. S. N. Subrahmanyan, Member of the Board and Senior Executive Vice President (Infrastructure & Construction) said: “We are delighted to have bagged this prestigious order. This is the company’s single largest road order in the international market and is an important turning point in our plans of growing the company’s business in the Middle East region.” 

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UK opens two new Visa Application Centres in Mumbai

The United Kingdom today opened two new visa application centres (VACs) here as part of a renewed partnership with VFS Global to provide visa application services in India and across South Asia.
The new VACs, located at Bandra-Kurla Complex and Nariman Point, were inaugurated by Sir James Bevan, the UK High Commissioner in India.
A press release from the British Deputy High Commission said the new VACs would provide an enhanced experience for visa applicants in Mumbai. The introduction of a New Premium Lounge at the Bandra-Kurla Complex VAC offers applicants a plush and relaxed experience, with a little more privacy, while applying for a visa, it said.
The release said the UK partnership with VFS Global had now been extended until 2019. Under the new contract, VFS Global and the UK Government will ensure that the VACs in a number of key markets are located as conveniently as possible for visa applicants. In particular in South Asia, the new contract also foresees major refurbishment of all VACs, it said
The UK also announced that it would be extending its “Passport Passback” service to all locations in India. This service allows applicants to retain their passports while visa decisions are being made, in particular to support business travellers needing to travel in the interim period. It also helps those visiting the UK who also wish to apply for other visas.
Sir James said the UK's 13 VACs in India and its numerous additional offerings, including the same day visa service, underlined that the country was "open for business".
He said nine out of ten Indians who applied for a UK visa got one and the UK issued more visas to Indians than to any other nationality in the world: over 400,000 in 2013. He said the number of visas issued had gone up by 5 per cent in 2013, including for visitors, workers and dependents.
He said the average time taken for issuance of a visa was just eight days and India was the first country where the UK had introduced the same-day visa service.
"We look forward to welcoming even more Indians to Britain this year. Indians who visit the UK have a good time and leave with a good impression. We aim to make that good impression on you before you even leave India – with the best visa service there is," he added.

UAE to host first leg of IPL 2014; playoffs, final leg to be played in India

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today announced that the 2014 Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL) season would be played from April 16 to June 1, with the first leg to be staged in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to the Lok Sabha elections in India.
"From Wednesday 16th April to Wednesday 30th April, at least 16 matches will be held in the United Arab Emirates," a press release from BCCI said.
"BCCI is very grateful to the Emirates Cricket Board, its Chairman Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, and the government of the UAE for their offer of wholehearted support to host the Pepsi IPL for this period," it said.
For the period from Thursday 1st May to Monday 12th May, BCCI has approached the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India seeking permission to play IPL matches in India in cities where the polling has concluded in the respective state. 
"BCCI is extremely conscious of the various complexities involved but hopes for a favourable consideration. BCCI will abide by the decision of the authorities in this regard. If it is not possible to play in India during this period, IPL matches will be held in Bangladesh and BCCI is thankful to the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the government of Bangladesh for their support," it said.
From Tuesday 13th May, by when polling would have concluded in all states, the remaining league matches plus the playoffs will be played in India. 
There will be no matches scheduled on Friday, May 16, the day of counting of votes in the election.
"BCCI will take the advice of the authorities if any further restrictions are required around the counting day," the release said, adding that a detailed match schedule for the Pepsi IPL 2014 season would be released soon.
According to the schedule announced by the Election Commission, polling in the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha will be held on nine days between April 7 and May 12.
The Government had conveyed to BCCI that it would be difficult for it to ensure security for the IPL matches given the huge requirements of security forces for the peaceful conduct of the elections.
The 2009 edition of the IPL had been staged in South Africa because it coincided with the last Lok Sabha elections. This year, too, there was talk that the tournament would be held in South Africa, but the UAE finally got the nod.

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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs 2935 crore

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction division had won new orders worth Rs 2935 crores across various business segments in February and March this year.
These include orders worth Rs 1035 crore in the Transportation Infrastructure Business, a press release from the company said.
It said a major EPC order had been received from Rail Vikas Nigam for construction of roadbed, major and minor bridges, track linking, outdoor signaling and electrical works in connection with doubling of Sambalpur-Barpali, Barpali-Bolangir, Bolangir-Titalgarh sections as part of the Sambalpur-Titalgarh doubling project of East Coast Railway in Odisha. 
Another order has been received from the Public Works Department, Government of Maharashtra, for rehabilitation and upgradation of NH-222 from junction with NH-211 to Manwath (Tadoboragaon) section to two lane with paved shoulders on EPC basis under NHDP-IV.   
The company has also bagged a turnkey order from Government of Odisha for two-laning of Kanakotra to Jharsuguda section with paved shoulder including construction of bypass at Belpahar in Odisha. This section connects NH 200 with Jharsuguda. 
In the Building & Factories Business, the company has won orders worth Rs 562 crore, including a turnkey contract from Lucknow Development Authority for construction of MIG/Super MIG flats in Lucknow. The brief scope of works includes construction of 1672 Flats in 11 residential towers (1 basement+1 stilt plus 19 floors). The construction involves civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, finishing and other associated works.
The Water & Renewable Energy Business has secured orders worth Rs 553 crores, including an order for execution of river front development project in Patna from Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation. The project is funded by the World Bank. The scope involves construction of 21 ghats along river Ganga and beautification of the river bank with other associated works.
It got an order from Government of Gujarat for design, site preparation, supply, installation and maintenance of city surveillance and intelligent traffic monitoring system for three major cities in Gujarat. 
The company's Power Transmission & Distribution Business has bagged orders worth Rs 502 crore in domestic and international markets.
A turnkey order has been bagged from Dakshinanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited for the work of system improvement, strengthening and augmentation of power distribution system and establishing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) compatibility for Aligarh town in Uttar Pradesh.
An international order has been bagged from KAHRAMAA (Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation) to construct 132 KV GIS Substation at Doha festival City on EPC basis.
Additional orders worth Rs 283 crores have also been received from various ongoing jobs of the Metallurgical & Material Handling and Heavy Civil Infrastructure Businesses, the release added.

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India's forex reserves rise by $ 954.6 million to $ 294.36 billion

India’s foreign exchange reserves increased by $954.6 million to $294.360 billion in the week ended February 28, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The reserves had fallen by $ 383.7 million to $ 293.406 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement issued here yesterday , the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, increased by $ 33.6 million to $ 266.902 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves increased by $ 902.3 million to $ 20.978 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) increased by $ 13 million to $ 4.469 billion during the period.
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went up by $ 5.7 million to $ 2.012 billion, the bulletin added.

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Naval officer dies in gas leak on board under-construction destroyer INS Kolkata

Yard-701 mishap: One officer killed, two injured
An officer of the Indian Navy died and some personnel of the public sector shipbuilders Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) here were affected in a gas leak in a mishap ths afternoon onboard the under-construction INS Kolkata, the Navy's most modern destroyer, which was due to be commissioned in some weeks from now.
Sources in the Navy and at MDL identified the deceased officer as Commander Kuntal Wadhwa.
According to them, he died after he ended up inhaling excessive quantities of carbon dioxide in the mishap on the vessel, officially called Yard-701, around 1 pm today while it was undergoing machinery trials. He was rushed to hospital along with the others, where he was declared dead, they said.
"Yard-701, being built by MDL while undergoing machinery trials in MbPT had a malfunction in its Carbon Dioxide unit, leading to gas leakage. One naval officer and some MDL personnel were affected and have been hospitalised," a statement from MDL had said earlier.
The mishap is expected to push back the commissioning of the ship by some weeks and has come as another setback for the Navy, whch is yet to recover from the fire on board one of its submarines, INS Sindhuratna, on February 26, in which two Naval officers were killed and seven others were injured.
That incident came on top of several incidents and accidents involving Naval assets, starting with the devastating explosions and fire on board another frontline submarines, INS Sindhurakshak, in August last year, in which 18 men lost their lives.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi had resigned from his position on February 26, hours after the fire on INS Sindhuratna, accepting moral responsibility for the incidents.

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Rakesh Sharma appointed MD&CEO of Lakshmi Vilas Bank

Lakshmi Vilas Bank today announced the appointment of Mr. Rakesh Sharma, a former State Bank of India (SBI) official, as its Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Sharma’s last assignment with SBI was as Chief General Manager for Patna Circle, comprising two states of Bihar and Jharkhand. He served SBI for more than 33 years, and has experience in retail and wholesale banking, asset liability management, loan syndication, trade finance and personnel development.
During his stint at SBI, Mr. Sharma held several responsibilities including head of mid-corporate accounts in Andhra Pradesh region and supervising retail operations in the states of Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Western Uttar Pradesh. 
Mr. Sharma also administered banking operations for International Banking Group (IBG) encompassing consolidation of balance sheets for all the foreign offices of the bank. While posted at Tokyo, he was in charge of overall functioning of SBI branches in Japan, a press release from Lakshmi Vilas Bank added.

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India's current account deficit narrows sharply to $4.2 billion in Q3: RBI

India's current account deficit (CAD) narrowed sharply to $ 4.2 billion (0.9 per cent of GDP) in the third quarter (Q3) of 2013-14 from $ 31.9 billion (6.5 per cent of GDP) in Q3 of 2012-13.
The figure is also lower than $ 5.2 billion (1.2 per cent of GDP) in Q2 of 2013-14, the Reserve Bank of India said in a statement on the country's balance of payments (BoP) for Q3 on the basis of preliminary data.
"The lower CAD was primarily on account of a decline in the trade deficit as merchandise exports picked up and imports moderated, particularly gold imports," it said.
On a BoP basis, merchandise exports increased by 7.5 per cent to $ 79.8 billion in Q3 of 2013-14 (3.9 per cent in Q3 of 2012-13) on the back of significant growth especially in the exports of engineering goods, readymade garments, iron ore, marine products and chemicals, it said.
On the other hand, merchandise imports, at $ 112.9 billion, recorded a decline of 14.8 per cent in Q3 of 2013-14 as against an increase of 10.4 per cent in Q3 of 2012-13. 
The statement said that the decline in imports in Q3 was primarily led by a steep decline in gold imports, which amounted to $ 3.1 billion as compared to $ 17.8 billion in Q3 of 2012-13 and $ 3.9 billion in Q2 of 2013-14.
As a result, the merchandise trade deficit (BoP basis) contracted by around 43 per cent to $ 33.2 billion in Q3 of 2013-14 from $ 58.4 billion a year ago, it said.
Net services receipts improved during Q3 of 2013-14, essentially reflecting a decline in payments on account of services imports. Net services at $ 18.1 billion recorded a growth of 8.9 per cent in Q3 of 2013-14 (y-o-y).
The statement said net outflow on account of primary income (profit, dividend and interest) amounting to $ 5.4 billion in Q3 of 2013-14 was relatively lower than that in the corresponding quarter ($ 5.8 billion) of 2012-13 as well as the preceding quarter ($ 6.3 billion). In Q3 of 2013-14, gross private transfer receipts at $ 17.3 billion showed an increase of 4.8 per cent (y-o-y).
In the financial account, on net basis, both foreign direct investment and portfolio investment recorded inflows of $ 6.1 billion and $ 2.4 billion, respectively in Q3 of 2013-14. Within portfolio investment, the debt segment showed net outflow in Q3 which, however, was offset by higher net inflows of US$ 6.2 billion under the category of equity.
‘Loans’(net) availed by deposit taking corporations (commercial banks) witnessed an outflow of $ 5.9 billion in Q3 of 2013-14 owing to repayments of overseas borrowings and a build-up of their overseas foreign currency assets. 
Under ‘currency & deposits’, net inflows of NRI deposits amounted to $ 21.4 billion in Q3 of 2013-14 as compared to $ 2.7 billion in Q3 of 2012-13.
A sharp increase in NRI deposits was on account of fresh FCNR(B) deposits mobilised under the swap scheme offered by the Reserve Bank during September-November 2013. 
Loans (net) availed by other sectors (i.e., external commercial borrowings) at $ 4.1 billion also showed an increase of 42.1 per cent over Q3 of 2012-13. Net flows under trade credits and advances, however, continued to be negative in Q3 of 2013-14 as repayments remained higher than disbursements.
On a BoP basis, there was a net accretion of $ 19.1 billion to India’s foreign exchange reserves in Q3 of 2013-14 as compared to a drawdown of $ 10.4 billion in the preceding quarter, it said. 
The turnaround in export growth and decline in imports from July 2013 onwards led to a sharp improvement in the trade deficit to $ 116.9 billion in April-December 2013 from $ 150.0 billion in April-December 2012.
Contraction in the trade deficit, coupled with a rise in net invisibles receipts, resulted in a reduction of the CAD to $ 31.1 billion (2.3 per cent of GDP) in April-December 2013 from $ 69.8 billion (5.2 per cent of GDP) in April-December of 2012.
Net inflows under the capital and financial account (excluding change in foreign exchange reserves) declined to $ 39.7 billion in April-December 2013 from $ 68.5 billion in corresponding period of 2012-13 owing to net outflows on account of portfolio investment, higher repayment of loans, and trade credit & advances.
On BoP basis, foreign exchange reserves increased by $ 8.4 billion during April-December 2013 as compared with an accretion of $ 1.1 billion in April-December 2012, the statement added.

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RBI extends date for exchanging pre-2005 banknotes to Jan 1, 2015

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today extended the date for exchanging the pre-2005 banknotes to January 1, 2015. 
It has also advised banks to facilitate the exchange of these notes for full value and without causing any inconvenience whatsoever to the public, a press release from the central bank said.
"The Reserve Bank solicits the cooperation of the public in withdrawing these notes from circulation by exchanging them at a bank branch convenient to them.
"This withdrawal exercise is in conformity with the standard international practice of not having multiple series of notes in circulation at the same time. A majority of such notes have already been withdrawn through the banks and only a limited number of notes remain with the public.
"The Reserve Bank clarifies that the public can continue to freely use these notes for any transaction and can unhesitatingly receive these notes in payment, as all such notes continue to remain legal tender," the release said.
The Reserve Bank will continue to monitor and review the process so that the public is not inconvenienced in any manner, it added.
The RBI had earlier, on January 22, announced that it would, after March 31, 2014, completely withdraw from circulation all banknotes issued prior to 2005.
It said the public could easily identify the notes to be withdrawn as the notes issued before 2005 do not have on them the year of printing on the reverse side. 

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India, UAE agree to bolster bilateral trade, continue strategic dialogue

Union Minister for Commerce & Industry Anand Sharma with Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, at the 2nd Meeting of the India-UAE High Level Joint Task Force on Investment, in Mumbai on March 3, 2014.
Union Minister for Commerce & Industry Anand Sharma with Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, at the 2nd Meeting of the India-UAE High Level Joint Task Force on Investment, in Mumbai on March 3, 2014.
India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today agreed on several steps to strengthen bilateral trade and pave the way for continued strategic dialogue between them.
At the second meeting of the India-UAE High Level Joint Task Force on Investments (HLTFI) held in Mumbai, the two sides also held wide-ranging discusions on priority sectors of engagement for chanelling investments in the two countries.
The meeting was co-chaired by Indian Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Shekh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court.
The HLTFI was established in April 2012 as a platform to address mutual issues associated with existing investments between the two countries and to promote and facilitate cross-border investments.
More than 30 government and private sector representatives from India and the UAE were present at the meeting, an official press release said.
The two sides discussed ways of supporting the establishment of a strategic petroleum reserve in India in a manner serving the common strategic interests of both countries and based on the principles of long term strategic partnership and cooperation. They decided to establish another joint working group to make progress on this effort.
They also discussed ways of expediting the resolution of current pending issues associated with existing UAE investments in India (Etisalat, Emaar & DP World), and a plan of action was agreed for the Legacy Issues sub-working group to address and resolve these issues.
The meeting acknowledged TAQA, the Abu Dhabi-based international energy and water company, as the largest private operator of hydroelectric plants in India, following its acquisition, signed on Saturday 1st March, 2014 in New Delhi, of two hydroelectric plants in India. 
The equity invested by the TAQA-led consortium in the acquisition of the two hydroelectric plants will amount to approximately Rs 3,820 crores (US$ 616 million), of which 51% is from TAQA. The consortium will also acquire the assets` non-recourse project debt, taking the value of the deal to $ 1.6 billion. 
The agreement followed the signing of the UAE-India Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement in December 2013 and the UAE`s commitment at the last HLTFI meeting to invest US$ 2 billion in India`s infrastructure sector.
The UAE side invited the Indian companies in the renewable energy area to the UAE to meet with Masdar to discuss potential investments.
The meeting noted that the UAE and India are significant trading partners and bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to continue its important growth in years to come. Alongside trade, the HLTFI would seek to achieve a similar growth path for investment with a clear roadmap between the two countries, an official press release issued after the meeting said.
Mr Sharma underlined India’s status as a major destination for foreign investments and the opportunities that exist for the UAE, especially in infrastructure areas such as roads and highways, power and utilities, civil aviation, ports, renewable energy and urban infrastructure,  and participation through the Infrastructure Debt Funds. 
He also highlighted India’s desire to participate in the hydrocarbon sector in the UAE, especially in the upstream petroleum sector. He also mentioned that he saw greater opportunities for UAE investors as strategic partners in India’s growth story.
"Today we have advanced the work of the Joint Task Force, and laid the foundation for further mutually beneficial investments and areas of common interest," Sheikh Hamed said.
"We look forward to the ratification of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, and the resolution of the outstanding issues identified at our first meeting. Together, our combined efforts will help to further strengthen bilateral trade relations and pave the way for continued strategic dialogue," he said.
The first meeting of the HLTFI, held in Abu Dhabi in February 2013, resulted in a wide-ranging discussion on matters of mutual interest including the identification of priority sectors of engagement for possible investments in the two countries. Since then, work conducted by the HLTFI to strengthen and develop bilateral relations in the field of investments culminated in the signing, in December, 2013, of a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), serving as a platform for promotion and reciprocal legal protection of investments in both countries.
As a result of decisions taken during the inaugural meeting of the HLTFI, several joint working groups have been created to address issues of mutual interest in the following sectors: Infrastructure, Investment & Trade, Energy, Manufacturing & Technology, Aviation, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Legacy Issues. 
At today`s meeting, an action plan was agreed to expedite progress across all these joint working groups, the release added.

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L&T wins Rs 1550 crore road project in Oman

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said it had won a prestigious international order worth Rs 1550 crore from the Ministry of Transport and Communications in Oman for the construction of a road between Bidbid-Sur Section (Second Phase, First Part).
The scope of L&T’s works involves widening of the existing 76 km two-lane road into three-lane dual carriageway, the construction of 10 arch type interchanges, 5 two-cell vehicular underpasses, 7 single-cell pedestrian underpasses and 15 kilometers of linked and service roads along the stretch. 
The project is scheduled to be completed in 38 months, a press release from the company said.
When completed, the project will transform the existing single-lane carriageway into an international-class, all-weather motorway, on which vehicles can be driven at a speed of 120 kilometers per hour, it said.
Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, Member of the Board and Senior Executive Vice-President (Infrastructure and Construction), L&T, said, “This order augurs well for L&T’s business expansion plans in the infrastructure space in the GCC markets.  L&T has been making significant strides in the transportation infrastructure sector both in the International and domestic markets through our well-established capabilities in design, engineering and project execution with top class quality and safety standards."

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HDFC raises $ 300 million ECB under low cost affordable housing scheme

Housing finance major Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC) today said it had raised external commercial borrowing (ECB) of $ 300 million from a consortium of four lenders.
The lenders are State Bank of India (SBI), Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. and DBS Bank Ltd, a press release from the company said.
HDFC has assets of over $ 35 billion and a market capitalization of $ 20.5 billion.
The ECB, which is in the form of a syndicated loan facility, is a first by an Indian housing finance company (HFC) under the low-cost affordable housing scheme of Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 
RBI in December 2012 permitted HFCs/NHB to raise ECBs for financing prospective owners of low cost affordable housing units. 
Low-cost affordable housing units have been defined as units where the property cost does not exceed Rs 30 lakh, loan amount is capped at Rs 25 lakh and the carpet area does not exceed 60 square metres. 
RBI has prescribed an aggregate limit of $ 1 billion each for FY 14 & FY 15 for ECBs to be drawn under this window.  HDFC’s borrowers are predominantly middle class individual households.
SBI and SMBC are the Original Mandated Lead Arrangers & Book runners, while The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. and DBS Bank Ltd are Mandated Lead Arrangers, the release added.
The borrowing facility has a tenor of 5 years.  HDFC has drawn down the facility in February 2014 from the above consortium of lenders. The rate of interest on the facility is linked to USD Libor plus a spread of 1.75%. HDFC has swapped the facility in Indian Rupees for the entire tenor of the loan. Roadshows shall be conducted by the lender banks in Taipei & Singapore in March 2014 to syndicate the facility and invite other international banks to participate in the facility. 

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Two missing naval officers on Sindhuratna found dead, probe begins into mishap

The Indian Navy today said that the two naval personnel, who were missing since a fire broke out yesterday morning on one of its submarines, INS Sindhuratna, had been found dead this afternoon.
"The two officers who were earlier declared missing have been located in the compartment and after examination by medical officers, both the officers were declared dead," a brief message from the Navy said.
Official sources identified the two officers as Lieutenant Commanders Kapish Munwal and Manoranjan Kumar.
The Russian-made kilo-class Sindhuratna was at sea off Mumbai for routine training and workup (inspection) when the mishap occurred.
"While at sea in the early hours of 26 Feb 2014, smoke was reported in the sailors accommodation, in compartment number three, by the submarine. Smoke was brought under control by the submarine's crew," a statement from the Navy said.
"In the process of controlling the smoke/fire, seven crew members inhaled smoke and felt uneasy. The Headquarters, Western Naval Command (HQWNC) rushed a Seaking Helicopter with medical team. The seven crew members were transferred to naval hospital Asvini. All specialist medical officers attended and reported that the crew is safe," it said.
Naval ships were dispatched by HQWNC to the area to provide assistance to the submarine and a search had been launched for the two missing officers. The vessel has since returned to the harbour.
The statement said all other crew of the submarine were on board and safe. The submarine was also safe and it did not have any weapons on board.
An inquiry has been ordered to establish the cause of the incident, the statement added.
The high-level inquiry, headed by an officer of the rank of Rear Admiral, has been constituted and commenced its work. The inquiry will establish the cause of recent incidents involving submarines and suggest steps for their continued safe operations.
Within hours of yesterday's mishap, which was the latest in a series of accidents and incidents involving Naval assets, including submarines, in he past seven months, causing great embarassment for the Navy, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi resigned from his position/
The Government accepted the resignation of Admiral Joshi with immediate effect and said that the Vice Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral R K Dhowan, would be discharging the duties of officiating CNS, pending appointment of regular CNS.
The Navy had suffered a devastating blow when one of its frontline submarines, INS Sindhurakshak, sank with about 18 people on board after it was gutted by two huge explosions followed by a major fire at the Naval dockyard in Mumbai in the early hours of August 14 last year.
Admiral Joshi had taken over as Chief of Naval Staff on August 31, 2012 and would have retired from service in mid-2015. He is the first CNS to resign from office.

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Sanjeeb Chaudhuri named Standard Chartered's Group Head of Brand & Chief Marketing Officer

Standard Chartered today said it had appointed Mr Sanjeeb Chaudhuri to the newly created role of Group Head of Brand and Chief Marketing Officer with effect from April 1.
In his new role, Mr Chaudhuri will oversee all brand and marketing teams across the Group, and take overall responsibility for developing a singular, cohesive brand strategy, a press release from the bank said.
"This will underline Standard Chartered’s recently announced re-organisation, in which the Wholesale and Consumer Banking businesses will integrate. As part of this, he will also spearhead a significant drive towards optimising Standard Chartered’s brand recognition across digital and mobile channels, enabling the Bank to better cater for customers who are increasingly living online. Sanjeeb will play a key role in helping to deepen understanding of ‘Here for good’, which remains the cornerstone of Standard Chartered’s brand proposition," it said.
Mr Chaudhuri currently serves as the Bank’s Regional Head for South Asia and Chief Marketing Officer for the Consumer Bank. 
Since joining Standard Chartered in 2011, he has driven the bank’s digital and mobile marketing offering, launching and executing innovative approaches to reach customers and prospects.
In his new role, he will report to Tracy Clarke, Director, Compliance, People and Communications.
Prior to his career with Standard Chartered Bank, Sanjeeb was CEO, Retail and Commercial Banking for Citicorp, Europe, Middle East and Africa, while also holding the role of Head, Retail Banking and Chief Marketing Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He was also a member of the Citi CEO Leadership Forum, the Citi Global Digital Council and the Citi Global Advertising Council.
He has also held senior marketing and general management positions at Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Unilever.

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"Neither RIL nor Mukesh Ambani hold illegitimate accounts": RIL

Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today strongly denied all allegations made by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal against them its Chairman & Managing Director Mukesh Ambani at a rally at Rohtak on Sunday.
"As stated earlier it is being reiterated that neither Reliance Industries Limited nor Mr. Mukesh Ambani have or had any illegitimate accounts anywhere in the world," a statement from the company said.
Mr Kejriwal had read out two numbers at the rally and said that they were of the Swiss bank accounts of Mr Ambani and his brother Anil Ambani, who heads the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG). He had challenged Guarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, wo is the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, to bring back to the country such allegedly illegal wealth stashed abroad.
Mr Kejriwal also alleged that the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre was controlled by Mr Ambani and that Mr Modi's high-profile campaign was being financed by him and other industrialists.
"Reliance Industries Limited has business interests in several countries with turnover of thousands of crores in Rupees. As a part of their normal business, these international subsidiaries of Reliance Industries Limited deal with several global banks.
"These accounts are fully compliant with all regulations and are disclosed in their appropriate jurisdictions and in India.
"The continued tirade of baseless allegations being made by AAP against us appears to be instigated by vested interests," the release added.

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Delhi Airport ranked 2nd, Mumbai 5th in 25-40 million category in ACI's ASQ Awards

A view of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi
A view of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi
Two Indian airports - Delhi and Mumbai - figure in the top five in the 25-40 million passengers per annum (MPPA) category in the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards for 2013 announced earlier this week in Montreal by the Airports Council International (ACI).
While the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in Delhi has been ranked second in the category for the third year in a row, the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in Mumbai has been placed fifth.
Seoul's Incheon airport topped the category, while Taipei's Taoyuan and Shanghai's Hongqiao airports were placed third and fourth.
Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport was placed second in the 5-16 million passengers category.
IGIA was placed fifth among the Best Airports in the Asia Pacific Region, while Kolkata was chosen as the Best Improved airport in the region. 
IGIA scored 4.84 on the ASQ scale out of 5 points, a vast improvement over its ASQ score of 3.02 in 2007, ranking last in an universe of 101 airports.
“IGIA has come a long way in the last seven years since we took over. We have ensured that quality has become a way of life not just with DIAL employees but with all stakeholders of the IGI Airport family. We are confident that all 30,000 plus members of the IGI Airport family will continue to strive for excellence and we hope to improve our position even further in the coming years," Mr I Prabhakara Rao, CEO of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) said.
IGIA now boasts of an annual passenger capacity of over 60 million, including the state of the art Terminal-3 (T3) which can handle 34 million passengers. 
As many as 36.71 million passengers passed through IGIA in 2013 CY. The airport also handled almost 586 thousand metric tonnes of cargo and 309074 aircraft movements during the same period.
Since its creation in 2006, the ASQ Awards have become the world's leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark with over 235 airports participating. The ASQ Awards recognize and reward the best airports in the world based on ACI's ASQ passenger satisfaction survey.
ACI is the only global trade representative of airports. The 573 members operate 1751 airports in 174 countries and territories. It is a non-profit organisation whose prime purpose is to represent the interests of airports and to promote professional excellence in airport management and operations.
The ASQ Awards are presented in four categories that include: Best Airport by Region, Best Airport by Size, Best Small Airport and Best Improvement.
The following is the list of awards:
Best Airport by Region (first place): Cape Town (Africa), Seoul Incheon (Asia-Pacific), Moscow Sheremetyevo (Europe), Guayaquil (Latin America-Caribbean), Abu Dhabi (Middle East), Indianapolis (North America).
Best Airport by Size* (first place): Changchun (2-5m), Haikou (5-15m), Seoul Gimpo (15-25m), Seoul Incheon (25-40m), Singapore (over 40m).
* Millions of Passengers Per year
Best Small* Airport by Region (first place): Upington (Africa), Skopje (Europe), Quebec City (North America), Mazatlan (Latin America-Caribbean), Langkawi (Asia-Pacific).
* Fewer than 2 million passengers per year
Best Improvement by Region (first place): East London (Africa), Kolkata (Asia-Pacific), Gothenburg (Europe), Nassau (Latin America-Caribbean), Amman (Middle East), San Antonio (North America).
ASQ 2013 Top Performers
Africa: 1. Cape Town 2. Durban 3. Mauritius 4. Cairo 5. Johannesburg 
Asia-Pacific: 1. Seoul Incheon 2. Singapore 3. Beijing 4. Shanghai Pudong 
5. New Delhi
Europe: 1. Moscow Sheremetyevo 2. Zurich 3. Porto 4. Keflavik 5. Malta
Latin America-Caribbean: 1. Guayaquil 2. Cancun 3. Montego Bay 4. Nassau 
5. Puerto Vallarta 
Middle East: 1. Abu Dhabi 2. Dubai 3. Doha 4. Tel Aviv 5. Amman
North America: 1. Indianapolis 2. Ottawa 3. Tampa 4. Sacramento 
5. Jacksonville
Latin America-Caribbean: Mazatlan 
Asia-Pacific: Langkawi
Africa: Upington 
Europe: Skopje
North America: Quebec City
2-5 million passengers: 1. Changchun 2. Guayaquil 3. Ottawa 4. Halifax 5. Grand Rapids 
5-15 million passengers:1. Haikou 2. Hyderabad 3. Tianjin 4. Wuhan 5. Harbin
15-25 million passengers: 1. Seoul Gimpo 2. Chongqing 3. Tampa 4. Salt Lake City 5. Zurich
25-40 million passengers: 1. Seoul Incheon 2. New Delhi 3. Taipei Taoyuan 4. Shanghai Hongqiao 5. Mumbai 
Over 40 million passengers: 1. Singapore 2. Beijing 3. Shanghai Pudong 4. Hong Kong 5. Guangzhou
Africa: East London 
Asia-Pacific: Kolkata
Europe: Gothenburg
Latin America-Caribbean: Nassau
Middle East: Amman
North America: San Antonio

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Injured Dhoni out of Asia Cup, Virat Kohli to lead

Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been ruled out of the Asia Cup to be played in February-March in Bangladesh and the side will now be led by Virat Kohli.
The Senior Selection Committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) met here today and picked Dinesh Kartik as his replacement in the Indian squad for the tournament.
Dhoni suffered a Grade I left side-strain injury during the second Test against New Zealand. He will be undergoing rehabilitation for ten days, a BCCI press release said.

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