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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs 4006 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its constructionarm had won orders worth Rs 4006 crore across varios business segments in December 2014, both in the domestic and international markets.
 
These include orders worth Rs 2053 crore bagged by its Transportation Infrastructure Business. Among them is a an order from a customer in Odisha for the construction of 48 m of railway lines for the transportation of coal from coal mines for their thermal power station. 
 
The scope of work also includes building a water pipeline along the railway line, a press release from the company said.
 
The release said the company had been awarded a road project in the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the development and upgradation of the Bijapur-Gulbarga-Homnabad section of NH-218 in Karnataka.
 
Additional orders worth Rs 440 crore had been also received from ongoing domestic and international projects.
 
The company said its Water & Renewable Energy Businesses had secured new orders worth Rs 729 crore, including one received by its subsidiary, L&T Oman LLC, from Salalah Free Zone Company in Oman for the construction works of Adhan Phase 1A. The scope consists of building a potable water network, an irrigation water network, a storm water network, a sewer network, irrigation and firefighting reservoirs, pumping stations and control rooms.
 
Another order has been received from National Mineral Development Corporation Limited for the construction of an earthen reservoir, a raw water pump house, a water treatment plant and a distribution system for its integrated steel plant at Nagarnar, Chattisgarh.
 
The company's Renewable Energy Business has bagged a turnkey order from a power developer for the construction of Solar PV Plants in Punjab.
 
Its Power Transmission & Distribution Business has won new orders worth Rs 688 crore. These include a contract secured by its subsidiary, Larsen & Toubro Saudi Arabia LLC, from the National Grid, Saudi Arabia (a subsidiary of Saudi Electricity Company), for the construction of 132 kV cabling & 132 kV double-circuit transmission lines in Buraydah and Hail Areas of the kingdom.
 
On the domestic front, the business vertical bagged an order from Uttar Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation Limited (UPPTCL) for the turnkey construction of 400 kV double circuit quad transmission lines between Banda-Orai and Banda-Allahabad regions of Uttar Pradesh.
 
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The business has also received an EPC order from Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) as a part of the northern regional strengthening scheme. The scope of work includes extension of 400/220 kV GIS Parbati pooling, 400/220 kV GIS Gurgaon substation and 400 kV GIS Kanpur substation.
 
The company said its Heavy Civil Infrastructure Businesses had secured new orders worth Rs 228 crore, including a repeat EPC order from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) for the construction of viaduct and stations for YMCA – Ballabhgarh extension of the Delhi MRTS. Additional orders have been also received from various ongoing jobs.
 
L&T Geostructure LLP, a subsidiary of L&T, has won orders worth Rs 328 crore including a major one from a reputed customer for CW system and makeup water system civil works package in the eastern part of the country.
 
“These orders reveal the increased activity at ground level in the infrastructure space which augurs well for the economy and, more particularly, for EPC players like us,” said Mr. S N Subrahmanyan, Member of the Board and Senior Executive Vice President (Infrastructure & Construction). “While these orders will help us further establish our leadership on the domestic front, the orders that we are steadily getting from overseas is a reflection of our growing presence in these markets,” he added.
 
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Veteran Gujarati actor Upendra Trivedi passes away in Mumbai

Upendra Trivedi
Upendra Trivedi
Well-known Gujarat film and stage actor Upendra Trivedi passed away at his residence in Vile Parle here late last night.
 
He was 78. He is survived by his wife Shardaben and two sons Ashish Trivedi, a producer of plays under the abnner of Upendra Trivedi Productions, and Hemant Trivedi, a music composer.
 
His funeral was held this afternoon at Waghjibhai ni vadi at Vile Parle and was attended by a large number of his relatives, friends and admirers.
 
Family sources said Trivedi had been ailing for more than five months. He had been discharged on Thursday from a hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for respiratory problems, but had developed complications again last night and breathed his last a little past midnight.
 
Known as "Abhinay Samrat" for his acting prowess after he essayed seven roles in a play of the same name, Trivedi was the brother of Arvind Trivedi, who had played the role of Ravana in the television serial Ramayana.
 
Born in 1936, Trivedi had humble beginnings and began life as a labourer. After acting in plays during his college days. He played some bit roles in Gujarati movies, which helped him to pay his way through his college. He got his big break with Jesal Toral, which turned out to be a big hit, and went on to reign over Gujarati cinema for nearly four decades, acting in several successful movies, many of them with actress Snehlata, with whom he formed a popular screen pair.
 
He also directed Manvini Bhavai, one of the most memorable Gujarati films based on the novel of the same name by renowned writer Pannalal Patel. The film went on to win a national award.
 
Trivedi appeared in the popular Hindi movie "Jungle Mein Mangal", playing a negative role.
 
He joined politics and won the election to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly from Bhiloda. He served as Deputy Speaker of the Assembly from 2000-02.
 
During a distinguished career, he was honoured by the government with the Padma Shri and had also won the prestigious Pandit Omkarnath Thakur Award.
 
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Modi says science, technology must reach the poorest, most vulnerable

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday the arms of science, technology and innovation must reach the poorest, the remotest and the most vulnerable person and underlined that this was an enterprise of national importance in which the government, industry, national laboratories, universities and research institutions had to work together.

 
Nation's progress linked to science and technology: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the arms of science, technology and innovation must reach the poorest, the remotest and the most vulnerable person and underlined that this was an enterprise of national importance in which the government, industry, national laboratories, universities and research institutions had to work together.
 
"Too often, a discussion on science and technology is reduced to a question of budgets. It is important; and I am confident that it will continue to grow," he said in his inaugural address at the 102nd Indian Science Congress here.
 
"But, our own achievements have shown that very often a need and vision and passion are more important than resource for success. And, it is how we use resources that will determine how effective we are in making science and technology work for us," he said.
 
Mr Modi said India's achievements in science and technology gave its people pride, but they did not blind them to the enormous challenges that the country faced.
 
"We are at yet another moment of expectation and excitement, as we were at the birth of independent India. There is a mood of optimism for change in the country; the energy to pursue it; and, confidence to achieve it," he said.
 
"But, the dreams we all share for India will depend as much on science and technology as it will on policy and resources," he said.
 
He listed some of these dreams as:
 
--To make the country'sagriculture more resilient and yield more; to develop appropriate and affordable technologies for rural areas;
--To do more from every drop of water; and, explore the potential of marine resources 
--To preserve the country's biodiversity; and keep its environment clean 
--To improve healthcare and develop medicines and medical devices that is within the reach of poorest; 
--To make clean energy affordable and its use more efficient; 
--To use technology to realize our dream of housing and sanitation for all; 
--To find our indigenous solutions to make Indian cities cleaner and more habitable 
--To turn waste into wealth and resources for sustainable infrastructure of the future; 
--To use internet to improve human development 
--To make India a leading manufacturing nation; and a hub for knowledge and technology-intensive industries. 
 
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Mr Modi said he greatly admired the rich history of the hundred-year-old Indian Science Congress and felt humbled by the work that scientists do. He also said that he found science and technology an invaluable ally in governance and development. 
 
He said science and technolgy had helped reduce poverty and advance prosperity; fight hunger and improve nutrition; conquer diseases, improve health and give a child a better chance to survive; connect people to their loved ones and the world; spread education and awareness; and, given the country clean energy that could make its habitat more sustainable. 
 
"A nation's progress and its human development are linked to science and technology. In more recent times, China's emergence as the second biggest global economy is in parallel to its rise to the second place in science and technology activities," he said.
 
Mr Modi said science and technology could also remove national barriers, unify the world and advance peace. It can bring nations, rich and poor, in a shared effort to address global challenges, he said.
 
"But, we also know that it can increase inequality, make wars more lethal and damage our environment. Sometimes, we learn about their consequences later, as we did on climate change; sometimes, these are the result of our own choices," he said.
 
"For example, information technology was meant to increase efficiency and productivity; sometimes, however, its various distractions can easily overpower us! How often do we sit in meetings and cannot resist the temptation to catch up on our messages!" he said.
 
"So, when we speak of science and human development, we cannot divorce it from the questions of political decisions; social choices; and of equity, ethics and access. 
 
"Human development has been the larger purpose and the driving force of Indian scientific pursuits. And, science has helped shape modern India. At the dawn of freedom, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru placed science and technology at the heart of national development. Our scientists launched pioneering research and built outstanding institutions with modest resources that continue to serve us well," he said.
 
"Since then, our scientists have placed us at the forefront of the world in many areas. Whenever the world shut its door on us, our scientists responded with the zeal of a national mission. When the world sought our collaboration, they reached out with the openness that is inherent in our society. They have alleviated some of our most acute and pressing challenges of human development. They helped us overcome dependence on others for such basic needs as food. They have secured our borders; supported industrial progress; and, given our people a life of opportunities and dignity," he said.
 
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In this context, he congratulated Indian scientists who helped put Mangalyaan in the Mars orbit in the very first attempt and whose accurate prediction of cyclone Hudhud helped save thousands of lives. "Our nuclear scientists work for our energy security, and they have also placed India at the Asian forefront in cancer research and treatment," he said.
 
Mr Modi said India's development challenges would naturally shape its strategic priorities in science and technology. "Even as we focus on some key areas, we should not confine research and development to a few pre-determined paths. And, it is as important to focus on basic research as on research and development and innovation. We should also recognize that science is universal, but technology can be local," he said.
 
"If we incorporate traditional and local knowledge, systems and technologies, we may develop more appropriate, effective, affordable and sustainable solutions that contribute immensely to human development and progress," he said.
 
Mr Modi said that, as the major source of science and technology efforts in the country, the government must do its part. "When I speak of ease of doing business in India, I also want to pay equal attention to the ease of doing research and development in India," he said.
 
"Funding proposals must not take too long to clear; meeting application requirement should not become more complex than research; approval process should not become a deterrent for international conference; and, our scientific departments must have flexibility of funding decisions based on the uncertainties inherent in research activities. 
 
"We want our scientists and researchers to explore the mysteries of science, not of government procedures. We want them to consider publications, not government approvals, to be the epitome of their success. 
 
"We must also have clear regulatory policies for research and development in areas like biotechnology, nano-science, agriculture and clinical research. We should ensure that our strong intellectual property regime continues to work effectively and provides the right balance between private incentives and social good," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that, not just scientific departments, but every department in the government should see how to apply science and technology and promote research to improve their work. Each should have an officer focusing on science and technology relating to its area of work; and, allocate a percentage of its budget for such activities. "We have begun this experience with space technology," he said.
 
He said investments in science and technology activities should also become part of the expenditure on corporate social responsibility – to be funded directly or through an autonomous fund. 
 
He said the country also needed to foster a strong culture of collaboration between institutions and across disciplines to take advantage of developments, innovations and expertise in diverse areas.
 
"My impression is that this is far from the ideal in India. I will ask our ministries to make collaborations a critical requirement for their institutions and for supporting funding requests for research," he said.
 
Mr Modi said the university system had to be placed at the cutting edge of the research and development activities in the country. "Our investments in science and technology are far too concentrated in the agencies of the Central Government and must become more broad-based. Our universities must be freed from the clutches of excessive regulation and cumbersome procedures. They must have a higher degree of academic freedom and autonomy; and, there should be as much emphasis on research as on teaching," he said.
 
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He said that, in turn, the universities must also subscribe to the highest academic and research standards and accountability. This includes thorough peer review. 
 
"We have to rapidly expand our higher education sector; yet, our existing institutions face shortage of faculty. We have a large pool of outstanding scientists and engineers working in central institutions and agencies. I want them to spend some time each year, teaching and guiding Ph.D students at a university. Our industry must also step up investments in science and technology in its own interest," he said.
 
Mr Modi noted that India's pharmaceutical industry had carved out a place for itself in the world, because it invests significantly in research. "Indeed, our long term global competitiveness will depend not on replicating what others have done, but through a process of sustained development and innovation. There is a growing trend of international collaboration in research and development, not just among business enterprises, but equally among researchers and scholars at universities and laboratories. We should take full advantage of this," he said.
 
He said he had, for this reason, placed science and technology at the forefront of India's diplomatic engagement. "As I have travelled abroad, I have personally sought out scientists to explore collaborations in areas like clean energy, agriculture, biotechnology, medicine and healthcare," he said.
 
"We have built excellent partnerships with all leading nations to address the grand challenges of the world today. I have also offered our expertise to our neighbours and other developing countries. 
 
"I have often spoken of skill development for our youth. Our future will be secure and our global leadership possible, if we also prepare the next generation of world class scientists, technologists and innovators. School education in science and mathematics should become more creative and stimulating. 
 
"Let us also use Internet to bring the best of our scientists in direct contact with our children and our youth. Digital connectivity should become as much a basic right as access to school," he said.
 
Mr Modi welcomed the initiatives of Department of Science and Technology for involving thousands of children and youth in science and technology. 
 
"It is not surprising that our young minds are winning international competitions and 12 of them have minor comets named after them! Our children should seek role model in scientists as much as in sportsmen. Their parents should feel as much pride in their children seeking a future in science as in business or civil service. 
 
"For this, we need to communicate the power and possibilities of science better. Let us, for example, make science and technology the theme of Republic Day parade in the near future. We need to celebrate our scientific achievements as much as we rejoice in our success in other areas," he said.
 
"We should give young participants and winners in science fairs maximum public recognition and sustained support of the government. I would personally love to meet the best of our young scientists," he said.
 
Mr Modi said that, for a safe, sustainable, prosperous future for India; or global leadership in a knowledge and technology intensive world, the country needed to put science, technology and innovation at the top of national priorities. 
 
"I am confident that we can do it. We in India are the inheritors of a thriving tradition of Indian science and technology since ancient times. Mathematics and medicine; metallurgy and mining; calculus and textiles; architecture and astronomy - the contribution the Indian civilization to human knowledge and advancement has been rich and varied. 
 
"We can draw inspiration and confidence from our numerous successes over the past six decades in difficult circumstances; the strength of our many institutions; and, India's rich talent in science, reflected in the five distinguished Indian scientists, whom we have just honoured. 
 
"Above all, we must restore the pride and prestige of science and scientists in our nation; revive the romance for science in society; rekindle the love for it in our children; and, encourage our scientists - to dream, imagine and explore. 
 
"You will have no better supporter than me. In turn, I seek your help in transforming India," he added.
 
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Essel Propack sets up new cosmetic tube capabilits in Egypt, China

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Specialty packaging major Essel Propack Limited, part of the Essel Group, has set up new manufacturing capabilities in Egypt and China to cater to the need for laminated plastic tubes from FMCG and cosmetic brands in the Middle East, African and Chinese markets.
 
A press release from the company said it had inaugurated its fifth plant in China with the commissioning of Essel Propack Suzhou Ltd (EPSL) in Suzhou, East China for the non-oral care category.
 
The plant is strategically located in the hub of all multinational and domestic cosmetic brands.  The primary focus of the new plant would be beauty and cosmetic products like  facial cleanser, hand cream, BB cream, shampoo and hair conditioner, it said.
 
This is the first phase of investment in EPSL, which has an annual tube supply capacity of 160 million tubes, which will subsequently be more than doubled to reach 380 million annual tubes. EPSL eyes a market share of 5.1% in China’s non-oral care tube market in FY’15-16, from the current level of 3.2%.
 
Additionally, the company has installed a new machine in  Egypt with the capability  to produce laminated tubes for cosmetic brands, on witnessing a fast-emerging conversion from jars to tubes in personal care products like hair gels. The major customers are changing preferences from jars and  plastic tubes to laminated tubes .
 
The release said Essel saw huge growth potential in the hair care markets of Middle East and Africa. To cater to this demand, the company has introduced the latest plastic barrier laminate tube with inviseam technology, and high décor using its own Elite Printing platform.   
 
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Mr Ashok Goel, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Essel Propack Limited, said: “Cosmetic products have  much better revenues, asset turn and value addition compared to the other products in our portfolio. Oral care segment comprises 85% of Essel’s total revenue in China as per the last fiscal. The new plant which is our fifth site in China creates a new opportunity for Essel to mitigate any risk with current oral care customer group and could become a strong impetus for EP China’s top line growth in 2015 and beyond.”
 
"Also, in AMESA region, we are witnessing a very high consumption of skin care, hair care and male grooming products. With two decades of experience in Egypt, this new business is certainly set to complement our growth and help us achieve our target of  50% revenue share from non-oral care business," he added.
 
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Dawood Bohra community head Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin meets Modi in Mumbai

The religious head of the Dawoodi Bohra Community, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Mumbai on January 2, 2015.
The religious head of the Dawoodi Bohra Community, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Mumbai on January 2, 2015.
Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the religious head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here today.
 
An official press release said Mr Modi recalled his long and warm association with Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the former religious head of the community, who had passed away last year. 
 
Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin appreciated Mr Modi`s efforts to take India forward, and pledged the community`s support to his initiatives, the release said.
 
Mr Modi suggested that the Dawoodi Bohra community, which is present in about 400 districts of the country, should initiate Swachhta Abhiyaan competitions among schools in these districts, and award the best performing schools through the creation of laboratories or computer resources. 
 
The Dawoodi Bohra community, which was traditionally a trading community, but has now made great progress in the manufacturing sector, also pledged its support to the `Make in India` initiative of the Prime Minister. 
 
The community has expressed keenness to establish a smart city in Mumbai. The Prime Minister offered all support in this initiative as did Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was present on the occasion.
 
Mr Modi also asked for suggestions from the community for the coming Union Budget, given its vast experience, particularly in bringing about positive results in the health and education sector. 
 
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Mumbai rail services hit as commuters go on rampage against delays

 
Mumbai Central Railway Services hit as commuters go on rampage
Suburban train services on the Central Railway in Mumbai were disrupted today after angry commuters held protests against the delays in train services.
 
At Diva station, commuters also resorted to violence, resulting in injuries to some motormen and damage to railway property. This, in turn, led to a strike by motormen, which aggravated the situation further. Police resorted to a mild cane charge to disperse the protesters.
 
The commuters were angered by the delay in the suburban services after a pantograph of a train was broken near Thakurli station this morning, leaving hundreds of them stranded at Diva and other stations.
 
Some people pelted stones at trains and damaged railway property, sources said. 
 
As the protests gathered steam, train services were delayed by several hours.
 
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, who hails from Mumbai and happened to be in the city, held talks with the motormen's union to persuade them to return to work and also with the Railway officials and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other state government officials to find a permanent solution to such problems.
 
Centrail Railway officials said the pantograph of a local train had tilted and broke arund 0650 hours between Thakurli and Dombivali stations on the Up slow line. Due to this, the overhead power was switched off for about 36 minutes and trains were diverted to other lines, leading to a delay.
 
Passengers began protesting by squatting on the tracks at Diva station, causing cascading delays. 
 
The officials said as many as 134 train services were cancelled today as a result of the protests. They said 10 EMU rakes were damaged, which will affect suburban services during peak hours over the next two days.
 
Two motormen and five personel of the Railway Protection Force were injured in the stone pelting, they said.
 
Seven automated ticket vending machines (ATVMs) and three booking counters at Diva station, two booking counters and six ATVMs at Dombivali station and a level crossing gate boom at Diva level crossing were damaged in the incidents, they said.
 
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India’s forex reserves decline by $287.5 million to $ 319.71 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $ 287.5 million to $ 319.71 billion in the week ended December 26, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The forex reserves had soared by a whopping $ 3.164 billion to $ 319.997 billion in the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone down by $ 271 million to $ 295.4 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 $ 18.985 billion while its special drawing rights (SDRs) fell by $ 13 million to $ 4.186 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 3.5 million to $ 1.139 billion during the period, the bulletin added.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs 2521 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said the Building & Factories business of its construction division had bagged orders worth Rs 2521 crore in December in the domestic and international markets.
 
A press release from the company said L&T Oman LLC, a subsidiary of L&T, had won a prestigious order from the Ministry of Transport & Communications in Oman for the construction of a new passenger terminal at Duqm Airport in the sultanate.
 
The scope of work includes constructing a modern passenger terminal building with a capacity to handle 500,000 passengers per annum,   a 37-metre high air traffic control tower, and an air cargo terminal equipped to handle 25,000 tonnes of cargo per annum.
 
The subsidiary also bagged an order from Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN); the Sultanate’s leading tourism and mega real-estate developer, for the turnkey construction of a 4-star hotel at Oman Exhibition and Convention Center.
 
In the domestic market, a major order has been secured from a developer for the design and construction of residential apartments at Bangalore, the company said. The scope of works includes civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and finishing works, it said.
 
Another order has been received from a client for the construction of 10 high end residential towers in Mumbai. The scope includes civil, structure and associated works, the release added.
 
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Dhoni retires from Test cricket, Kohli named captain for final Test against Australia

File photo of MS Dhoni.
File photo of MS Dhoni.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of India's greatest Test captains under whose leadership India became the number one team in the Test rankings, has decided to retire from Test Cricket citing the strain of playing all formats of cricket. 
 
"M S Dhoni has chosen to retire from Test cricket with immediate effect in order to concentrate on ODI and T20 formats," Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Secretary Sanjay Patel said in a press release.
 
"BCCI, while respecting the decision of M S Dhoni to retire from Test cricket, wishes to thank him for his enormous contribution to Test cricket and the laurels that he has brought to India," the release said.
 
Virat Kohli will be the captain of the Indian team for the fourth and final Test against Australia to be played in Sydney from January 6, the release added.
 
The announcement came shortly after Dhoni had faced reporters at the end of the drawn third Test against Australia in Melbourne, which meant that the hosts won the series 2-0.
 
He did not mention his retirement plans during the post-match press conference and the announcement came through a press release from BCCI.
 
Kohli, who has been considered Dhoni's successor for a long time, had led the Indian team in the first Test against Australia. Dhoni had been rested for the match as a prophylactic measure to ensure optimum recovery from an injury.
 
India lost the match by 48 runs in a close contest, but Kohli won praise for his aggressive approach.
 
Dhoni, 33, a wicket-keeper batsman, has had a poor run as captain on overseas tours in recent years, having lost to England in 2011 and Australia in 2011-12. The team also lost to South Africa and New Zealand before going down to England again in summer this year.
 
He made his Test debut for India against Sri Lanka at Chennai on December 2-6, 2005 at Chennai. The Melbourne Test against Australia, played from December 26-30, was his last.
 
In all he appeared in 90 tests and played 144 innings, scoring 4876 rus in all at an average of 38.09. His highest score was 224. He hit six centuries and scored 33 halfcenturies during his Test career.
 
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RIL's Nagothane manufacturing site to shut down for four weeks in planned turnaround

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Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) today siad it had scheduled a planned turnaround at its Nagothane manufacturing site in Maharashtra for about four weeks beginning around mid-January 2015.
 
During this period, the cracker and some of the downstream units will be shut down, a press release from the company said.
 
"This opportunity will be used to carry out routine maintenance activities and for implementing other profit improvement and energy conservation measures. RIL’s crackers and other downstream units at other locations will continue at normal levels of operations," it said.
 
"With advance planning and inventory management, impact on external sales is likely to be minimal," the release added.
 
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India’s forex reserves soar by $ 3.164 billion to $319.997 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves soared by a whopping $ 3.164 billion to $ 319.997 billion in the week ended December 19, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The forex reserves had jumped by $ 2.172 billion to $ 316.834 billion in the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 3.31 billion to $ 295.671 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 $ 18.985 billion while its special drawing rights (SDRs) fell by $ 29.2  million to $ 4.199 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 117.6 million to $ 1.142billion during the period, the bulletin added.
 
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Reliance signs shipping deal with Mitsui OSK Lines for ethane import project

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Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said it had signed shipping agreements with one of the world’s largest and reputed shipping companies, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd (MOL) for transporting liquefied ethane from North America to India.
 
MOL will supervise the construction of six Very Large Ethane Carriers (VLECs), ordered by Reliance. MOL will also operate and manage the vessels after they are built and delivered, a press release from the company said.
 
Reliance, with this strategic tie-up with MOL, has achieved a key milestone for the successful implementation of ethane import project to feed crackers in India, the release added.
 
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Eros International acquires overseas rights of Dil Dhadakne Do, Bangistan

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Film entertainment major Eros International Media Ltd today said it had acquired the international rights of two Excel Entertainment’s films – Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do and Karan Anshuman’s Bangistan.
 
Dil Dhadakne Do stars Anil Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma and Shefali Shah. Shot mostly in foreign locales on a cruise ship, the film is a drama centered around a dysfunctional Punjabi family.
 
Film critic turned director Karan Anshuman’s Bangistan stars Riteish Deshmukh and Pulkit Samrat as two rival, blundering terrorists with Jacqueline Fernandez making a special appearance.
 
Eros International CEO Jyoti Deshpande said, "After a successful association for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, we are happy to once again partner with Excel who are known to make films that entertain as well as consistently offer a fresh take on cinema. Dil Dhadakne Do and Bangistan are looking extremely promising and we are looking forward to showcase these films internationally through our digital and distribution network."
 
Producer Ritesh Sidhwani, Excel Entertainment added, “We are happy to collaborate with Eros for these two exciting projects and present them on a worldwide platform through their outstanding distribution network”.
 
Eros will release Bangistan on April 17, 2015 and Dil Dhadakne Do on June 5, 2015 in the international markets, a press release from the company added.
 
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Thomas Cook launches customised holiday packages for senior citizens

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Travel services company Thomas Cook (India) Ltd has introduced a new product line, "Silver Breaks" that is exclusively focused on the segment of travellers of over 58 years of age --senior citizens or "Silvers".
 
A press release from the company said this segment offered an untapped opportunity of addressing the special needs of senior citizens who require personalised hliday solutions but currently have very few options.
 
The release quoted studies by Amadeus and Frost & Sullivan last year which said the market for outbound Indian senior citizens is projected to grow significantly from 1.3 million to over 7.3 million over the next 15 years.
 
Thomas Cook India said it expected the domestic segment to increase by a minimum of the same 7x multiple – and on a much larger base.
 
"Given this strong potential, Thomas Cook India intends to focus on serving the needs of middle and upper middle class senior citizens who have taken care of all their personal and professional responsibilities, have the means – and most importantly the time, to take top quality, competitively priced, specialised holidays where they do not have to worry or compromise," the release said.
 
The company said that, to ensure an in-depth understanding of the Silvers market segment,  it had worked extensively with members of the Dignity Foundation, a leading NGO in the elder space, to create special customised products for its Silver Breaks portfolio.
 
The specialized Siler Breaks itineraries offer support for special dietary needs, on- trip medical assistance, handpicked elder friendly hotels, experienced tour managers accompaniment, pre departure meetings,
entertainment evenings and high quality easy access vehicles covering destinations such as Thailand, UK and Italy in the outbound segment as well as the Golden Triangle and Kerala on the domestic front.
 
Mr. Rajeev D. Kale, President and Chief Operating Officer - MICE, Domestic & Sports Tourism, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd. said, “At Thomas Cook India, we continue our tradition of innovation by introducing a product line for a largely subserviced segment."
 
"Middle & upper middle class Indian senior citizens have taken care of all their responsibilities and have the means – and most importantly the time to take holidays where they do not have to worry or compromise. By working with members of Dignity Foundation, we were able to further understand their key needs– and hence our packages include airfare, all meals, elder friendly hotel accommodation and sightseeing, porter assistance, assistance for special dietary needs, on- trip medical assistance, handpicked experienced tour managers, pre departure meetings, entertainment evenings and easy access transport – all at very attractive price-value points. With the holiday season around the corner, Silver Breaks assures Silvers an unforgettable experience!” he added.
 
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Tata Motors opens online bookings for all-new Bolt

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Tata Motors today opened online bookings for its latest hatchback, the all-new Bolt, from its passenger vehicle stable. 
 
The Bolt will be available in petrol and diesel and will be the segment's first hatch to be powered by the 1.2L turbocharged Multi-point Fuel Injection (MPFi) Petrol Engine, Revotron 1.2T.
 
The diesel variant comes with a powerful 75PS engine, delivering 190 Nm of uninterrupted flat torque.
 
A press release from the company said Tata Motors has associated with Harman for developing the first-in-segment touchscreen infotainment and with MapMyIndia for next-generation smart phone based navigation, which also provides location-based services. 
 
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Jet Airways closes five-year syndicated loan in Middle East for $ 150 million

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Private sector carrier Jet Airways (India) Limited today said it had successfully concluded a five-year syndicated loan facility of $ 150 million, which was fully subscribed to by banks spread across the Middle East region.
 
Mashreqbank psc, was the sole Initial Mandated Lead Arranger and Book Runner for the transaction, a press release from the airline said.
 
The participating banks included Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC, and Commercial Bank International PJSC as the Mandated Lead Arrangers and Ahli United Bank B.S.C and Arab Banking Corporation B.S.C., as the Lead Arrangers.  Alpen Capital acted as financial advisors to Jet Airways for the transaction.  
 
Earlier, Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways PJSC and Jet Airways had announced a long term strategic alliance with the investment by Etihad of a 24 per cent equity stake in Jet Airways and a 50.1per cent stake in Jet Privilege Private Limited.  
 
John Iossifidis, Head of the International Banking Group at Mashreqbank, said: “The successful closure of this transaction is clear evidence of the growing liquidity available from the Middle East, favouring large leading Indian corporates.”  
 
“India has always been an essential strategic market for Mashreqbank and we remain committed to working alongside our core relationship clients, to explore different forms of capital funding," he said.
 
Cramer Ball, CEO of Jet Airways, stated: “Jet Airways is renowned for introducing quality to India’s airline industry and it is time to re-energize and re-establish ourselves as the country’s leading full-service airline.  We will continue to build on this strong foundation as part of our three-year turnaround plan. This syndicated loan facility will be instrumental in underpinning the airline on this progressive path."
 
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Axar Patel to replace injured Ravindra Jadeja in Test series against Australia

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Twenty year old left arm spinner Axar Patel will replace injured all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja for the remainder of the Test series against Australia, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said here today.
 
A BCCI press release said Jadeja, who has a shoulder injury, would return to India to undergo a rehabilitation programme.
 
Patel, who plays for Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy, has played nine one-day internationals (ODIs) so far and taken 14 wickets, with 3 for 40 against Sri Lanka as his best figures so far.
 
He made his Ranji Trophy debut in 2012 against Madhya Pradesh.
 
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India’s forex reserves jump by $ 2.172 billion to $ 316.834 billion

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India’s foreign exchange resrves jumped by $ 2.172 billion to $ 316.834 billion in the week ended December 12, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here yesterday.
 
The forex reserves had dipped by $ 1.65 bllion to $ 314662 billion in the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 2.406 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 $ 18.958 billion while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 19.9 million to $ 4.228 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 253.5 million to $ 1.260 billion during the period, the bulletin added.
 
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Individual wealth in India grows 27.5% to Rs 257.4 lakh crore in FY 2014: Karvy

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Total individual wealth in India grew by 27.5 percent in financial year (FY) 2014 to Rs 257.4 lakh crore over FY13, while the total wealth held by Indian individuals in assets went up by 52.3 per cent to Rs 134.7 lakh crore and in physical assets by 47.7 per cent to Rs 122.7 lakh crore during this period, the latest India Wealth Report has said.
 
The 5th edition of the report from Karvy Private Wealth, the private management arm of financial services major Karvy Group, provides an overall perspective on wealth held by individuals in India across financial assets and physical assets (real estate, gold, diamond, silver and platinum).
 
The report said the wealth held by individuals in financial assets had grown by 84% in the last five years at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 per cent.
 
"Considering the fact that the economy (Indian and global) had not shown healthy growth in this period, this gives an indication of how wealth will grow when the Indian economy does well in the next five years," it said.
 
According to the report, the Indian economy is expected to reach a GDP growth rate of 7.5% by 2018. 
 
"Due to macro- economic revival, we are seeing possibly the beginning of biggest bull runs in India. Direct Equity will become the single largest asset class contributing to individual wealth in India in year ending March 2015 overtaking Fixed Deposits and is likely to remain there. We expect a 25% CAGR on the equity markets and look at the Sensex touching 1,00,000 level by 2020!" it said.
 
The report said that overall Indian individual wealth is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.9% and double over the next five years. Wealth held by individuals in financial assets is expected to double in the next four years at a CAGR of 18.3%. Wealth in physical assets is also expected to grow at a CAGR of 10% in the next five years.
 
The report said individual wealth in India held in financial assets included Rs 29,39,702 crore in Fixed Deposits and Bonds (21.82% of the total financial assets).
 
It said the wealth held in other asset types included:
 
Direct Equity: Rs 26,66,202 crore (19.79%)
Insurance: Rs 22,12,654 crore (16.43%)
Savings Deposits: Rs 16,28,628 crore (12.09%)
Cash: Rs 13,00,900 crore (9.66%)
Provident Fund: Rs 7,36,096 crore (5.46%)
NRI Deposits: Rs 6,22,337 crore (4.62%)
Small Savings: Rs 5,78,851 crore (4.30%)
Mutual Funds: Rs 3,93,140 crore (2.92%)
Current Deposits: Rs 3,08,125 crore (2.29%)
Pension Funds: Rs 48,136 crore (0.36%)
Alternative Assets: Rs 23,727 crore (0.18%)
International Financial Assets: Rs 12,659 crore (0.09%)
 
Out of the Rs 122.7 lakh crore of individual wealth held in physical assets at the end of FY 2014, gold accounted for Rs 62,53,263 crore (50.96%), real estate Rs 50,38,978 crore (41.07%), diamond Rs 7,77,084 crore (6.33%), silver Rs 1,95,498 crore (1.59%) and platinum Rs 5,678 crore (0.05%).
 
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Mr. Sunil Mishra, CEO – KARVY Private Wealth, said, “Wealth with individual investors is expected to grow more rapidly in the next five years, riding on faster growth of the economy. The new government has undertaken a lot of initiatives to revive the Indian economy and make it among the fastest growing economies in the world. Several new policy measures like Make in India, Development of 100 Smart Cities, opening of FDI in several sectors, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Free pricing of auto fuels, financial inclusion by banking the unbanked etc. will also go a long way in making India more competitive and productive."
 
"We are standing at an interesting juncture where we are going to see a trend reversal between share of HH savings going into Financial Assets vs Physical Assets. This will change from 69:31 in favour of physical assets to 50:50, over the next five years," he added.
 
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Tata Power completes commissioning of 32MW wind project in Maharashtra

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Tata Power, India's largest integrated power company, today said it had commissioned the final 8 MW of the 32 MW wind farm at Girijashankarwadi in Maharashtra.
 
The wind farm uses the 2 MW wind turbine from Kenersys India, a press release from the company said.
 
With this, Tata Power’s total wind generation capacity stands at 470.6 MW, with wind farms located across five states - Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it said.
 
Tata Power has developed this project through its wholly owned subsidiary, Tata Power Renewable Energy Limited (TPREL). TPREL also has a further 300 MW of wind capacity under development and construction in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
 
The wind farm is expected to generate approximately 62 MUs per year which will be procured by Tata Power-Distribution towards fulfilment of its Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO). With this commissioning, Tata Power’s total generation capacity stands at 8623 MW.
 
Anil Sardana, managing director, Tata Power stated, “We are delighted to announce the commissioning of our wind project at Girijashankarwadi. Wind energy is an important part of our renewable energy portfolio and we aim to add 150-200 MW annually. We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint through the generation of 20- 25 % of our total capacity through clean and renewable energy sources."
 
According to the release, Tata Power’s 470 MW wind portfolio and its 56 MW solar portfolio make it the largest renewable utility player in India.
 
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Railways to run Winter Specials from Mumbai to Ernakulam/Tirunelveli, Pune to Ernakulam

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The Railways will run 18 special trains between Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) in Mumbai and Ernakulam in Kerala and Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu as well as between Pune and Ernakulam to clear the extra rush of passengers during the holiday season.
 
A press release from Central Railway said the composition of all three specials would be one AC-2 tier, one AC-3 tier, ten sleeper class coaches and one pantry car.
 
The 02065 Lokmanya Tilak Terminus-Ernakulam Special will leave LTT at 1250 hours on December 22, December 29 and January 5 and reach Ernakulam at 1400 hours on the next day.
 
In the return direction, 02066 will run as Normal Special and will leave Ernakulam at 17.00 hrs on December 23, December 30 and January 6 and arrive at LTT at 1930 hours the next day.
 
The halts for 02065 Premium Special are Panvel, Ratnagiri, Madgaon, Mangalore Jn., and Kozhikode.
 
The halts for 02066 Normal Special are Aluva, Thrissur, Shoranur, Tirur, Kozhikode, Vadakara, Thalasseri, Kannur, Payyanur, Kanhangad, Kasaragod, Mangalore Junction, Udupi, Kundapura, Mookambika Road Byndoor, Bhatkal, Murdeshwar, Karwar, Madgaon, Karmali, Thivim, Sawantwadi Road, Kudal, Kanakvali, Ratnagiri, Sangameshwar, Chiplun, Khed, Roha, Panvel and Thane.
 
The 02057 LTT-Tirunelveli Premium Special will leave LTT at 13.20 hrs on December 25, January 1 and January 8 and reach Tirunelveli at 22.00 hrs next day. In the return direction, 02058 will run as Normal Special and will leave Tirunelveli at 07.55 hrs on December 27, January 3 and January 10 and arrive at LTT at 1620 hours on the next day.
 
The halts for 02057 Premium Special are Panvel, Madgaon, Mangalore Jn., Ernakulam Jn. and Nagercoil Town.
 
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The halts for 02058 Normal Special are Valliyur, Nagercoil Town, Eraniel, Kulitturai, Neyyantinkara, Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kayankulam, Chengannur, Tiruvalla, Kottayam, Ernakulam Town, Aluva, Thrissur, Shoranur, Kuttipuram, Tirur, Kozhikode, Vadakara, Thalasseri, Kannur, Payyanur, Kanhangad, Kasaragod, Mangalore Junction, Udupi, Kundapura, Mookambika Road Byndoor, Bhatkal, Kumta, Karwar, Madgaon, Karmali, Thivim, Sawantwadi Road, Kanakvali, Ratnagiri, Chiplun, Roha, Panvel and Thane.
 
The 02059 Pune-Ernakulam Premium Special will leave Pune at 18.45 hrs on December 25, January 1 and January 8 and reach Ernakulam at 2005 hours on the next day.
 
In the return direction, 02060 will run as Normal Special and will leave Ernakulam at 05.15 hrs on December 27 and reach Pune at 07.10 hrs next day.
 
The halts for 02059 Premium Special are Panvel, Ratnagiri, Madgaon, Mangalore Jn and Kozhikode.
 
The halts for 02060 Normal Special are Aluva, Thrissur, Shoranur, Tirur, Kozhikode, Thalasseri, Kannur, Kasaragod, Mangalore Junction, Udupi, Karwar, Madgaon, Karmali, Kanakvali, Ratnagiri, Chiplun, Roha, Panvel and Lonavala
 
The release said bookings would open today through Internet only for train numbers 02065 leaving on December 22 and for trains 02057 and 02059 leaving on December 25.
 
For subsequent services, reservation will open 10 days in advance excluding the day of journey, the release added.
 
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Reliance Mediaworks to sell multiplexes business to Carnival Cinemas

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Reliance MediaWorks Ltd (RMW), a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) today said it had decide to sell its multiplexes business to Carnival Cinemas Ltd in the largest ever deal in the sector in India.
 
The proposed transaction will catapult Carnival to the ranks of the top three multiplex operators in the country, with over 300 screens nationwide, and set the company firmly on its path to achieve leadership in the business, a press release from the company said.
 
Shrikant Bhasi, Chairman, Carnival Group, said “I am thankful to Mr. Anil D. Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Group, for his support to a first generation entrepreneur like me, and in facilitating this transaction with Carnival Cinemas in preference to other leading cinema chains."
 
"We are targeting to achieve 1,000 screens by the year 2017, and look forward to the continued support of Reliance Group in our future growth," he said.
 
Sam Ghosh, CEO, Reliance Capital Ltd., stated, "We are delighted to begin a long term relationship with the rapidly growing Carnival Group, through the sale of the multiplexes business of Reliance MediaWorks to them. We look forward to supporting the group in their future growth initiatives in India and overseas."
 
He said the proposed transaction was in furtherance of Reliance Capital's stated objective of focusing purely on its core financial services businesses, significantly reducing exposure to non-core investments in the media and entertainment sector, and reducing overall debt.
 
The release said the transaction would reduce Reliance Capital's leverage by approximately Rs. 700 crore, through a combination of transfer of debt of RMW and infusion of cash proceeds.
 
The deal excludes real estate owned by RMW at IMAX Wadala and other properties, which are intended to be separately monetized for an approximate value of Rs. 200 crore.
 
Reliance Capital will have the option to acquire a pre-IPO minority stake in Carnival Cinemas at an appropriate discount, upon eventual listing of the company, the release said.
 
“We are very serious about exhibition business and are moving in an organic way also. Carnival Cinemas will not only make their presence in Tier I but would lay emphasis for strong presence across tier II & III cities. We want to make Cinemas synonymous to Carnival," Mr. Bhasi said.
 
The proposed transaction is subject to necessary statutory and other approvals and is expected to be closed within the current financial year.
 
EY are deal advisers to Reliance Group, and KPMG are acting as deal advisers for Carnival Group.
 
RMW has a presence across several businesses including film and media services, theatrical exhibition of films & and television content production and distribution. It operates one of India’s largest cinema chains, under the brand ‘BIG Cinemas’, with over 250 screens across India.
 
The Mumbai-based Carnival Group has diversified business in hospitality, media, real estate, entertainment and multiplexes. It operates cinema chains under the brand "Carnival Cinemas" with over 50 operational screens while 75 screens are to come on stream in the next two months taking the total portfolio to 125 screens. With the acquisition, Carnival Cinemas will reach 400 plus screens by this fiscal. Carnival Cinemas is currently present in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Prardesh and West Bengal. 
 
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Suresh Prabhu flags off three new trains from Mumbai

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Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu today flagged off three new trains frm Mumbai to Azamgarh via Allahabad and Jaunpur, Jaipur and Lucknow.
 
The trains are the 11053 Lokmanya Tilak Terminus-Azamgarh Weekly Express via Allahabad, Jaunpur; the 22933 Bandra Terminus-Jaipur Weekly Superfast Express and the 19021 Bandra Terminus-Lucknow Weekly Express.
 
Mr Prabhu also inducted the new rake of DEMU on Vasai Road-Diva-Roha section at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Mumbai).
 
He also declared the commencement of 11073 Lokmanya Tilak Terminus-Chennai Central Weekly Express from December 15 and 22115 Lokmanya Tilak Terminus-Karmali Weekly AC Superfast Express from December 18.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Prabhu underlined the need for the Railways to improve the travelling experience of railway passengers. He said expansion of tracks, signaling equipment, security and safety were areas which needed improvement.
 
He emphasised the need for cleanliness of stations, trains and coaches. He said base kitchens for quality meals and laundry for linen used in coaches must be set up so that users get the best amenities.
 
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Mr Justice Shiavax Vazifdar to perform duties of CJ of Punjab & Haryana HC

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The President has appointed Mr Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar, Judge of the Bombay High Court, to perform the duties of the office of the Chief Justice of the Punjab & Haryana High Court.
 
The appointment will be with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office in that High Court, an official press release said.
 
Mr Justice Vazifdar, who has been transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, has been directed to assume charge of his office there on or before December 16.
 
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India’s forex reserves dip by $1.65 billion to $ 314.662 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 1.65 billion to $ 314.662 billion in the week ended December 5, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The forex reserves had climbed by $ 1.433 billion to $ 316.312 billion in the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement issued here today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, went down by 867.4 million to $ 289.955 million 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 fell by $ 753.2 million to $ 18.985 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) declined by $ 21.6 million to $ 4.208 billion during the week.
 
India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 7.7 million to $ 1.513 billion during the period, the bulletin added.
 
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