RBI leaves key interest rates unchanged, cuts CRR by 50 bps to 5.5%

The Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday left the key policy repo rate unchanged at 8.5% and the reverse repo rate at 7.5% but reduced the cash reserve ratio of scheduled banks by 50 basis points from 6% to 5.5% from January 28 in a bid to ease liquidity conditions.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today left the key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 8.5 per cent and the reverse repo rate at 7.5 per cent but reduced the cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks by 50 basis points from 6 per cent to 5.5 per cent from January 28 in a bid to ease liquidity conditions.

The reverse repo rate under the LAF is determined with a spread of 100 basis points below the the repo rate.
Announcing the Third Quarter Review of Monetary Policy 2011-12, RBI Governor D Subbarao told mediapersons that, as a result of the reduction in the CRR, around Rs 320 billion of primary liquidity would be injected into the banking system.
The Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) rate, determined with a spread of 100 basis points above the repo rate, stands at 9.5 per cent. The Bank Rate has been retained at 6 per cent.
Subbarao said the policy actions and the guidance given in his statement were expected to ease liquidity conditions, mitigate downside risks to growth and continue to anchor medium-term inflation expectations on the basis of a credible commitment to low and stable inflation.
He said that, in reducing the CRR, the Reserve Bank had attempted to address the structural pressures on liquidity in a way that is not inconsistent with the prevailing monetary stance.
"In the two previous guidances, it was indicated that the cycle of rate increases had peaked and further actions were likely to reverse the cycle. Based on the current inflation trajectory, including consideration of suppressed inflation, it is premature to begin reducing the policy rate. The reduction in the policy rate will be conditioned by signs of sustainable moderation in inflation. However, the persistence of tight liquidity conditions could disrupt credit flow and further exacerbate growth risks. In this context, the CRR is the most effective instrument for permanent liquidity injections over a sustained period of time. The reduction can also be viewed as a reinforcement of the guidance that future rate actions will be towards lowering them," he said.
He emphasised that the timing and magnitude of future rate actions was contingent on a number of factors. 
"Policy and administrative actions, which induce investment that will help alleviate supply constraints in food and infrastructure, are critical. Initiatives to narrow skill mismatches in labour markets will help ease the pressure on wages. The anticipated fiscal slippage, which is caused largely by high levels of consumption spending by the government, poses a significant threat to both inflation management and, more broadly, to macroeconomic stability," he said.
"Strong signs of fiscal consolidation, which will shift the balance of aggregate demand from public to private and from consumption to capital formation, are critical to create the space for lowering the policy rate without the imminent risk of resurgent inflation. In the absence of credible fiscal consolidation, the Reserve Bank will be constrained from lowering the policy rate in response to decelerating private consumption and investment spending. The forthcoming Union Budget must exploit the opportunity to begin this process in a credible and sustainable way," he said.
The review said that, since the Second Quarter Review (SQR) of Monetary Policy in October 2011, there had been significant changes in the global scenario. On the one hand, concerns over the sustainability of sovereign debt problem in the euro area have intensified. On the other, there are modest signs of improvement in the United States. In the emerging and developing economies (EDEs), growth has been moderating, reflecting the sluggishness in the advanced economies and the impact of earlier monetary tightening. Overall, notwithstanding the signs of recovery in the US, global growth prospects have weakened since the SQR, it said.
The RBI said that growth in India had also moderated. In particular, investment activity has decelerated sharply, reflecting heightened global uncertainty and domestic fiscal, monetary, political and administrative conditions, it said.
It pointed out that inflation was beginning to moderate as projected, despite the significant depreciation of the rupee. 
"In particular, the higher than expected deceleration in food inflation has provided some relief, even though this was caused largely by a seasonal decline in vegetable prices. Consistent with the Reserve Bank’s earlier projections, inflation is likely to decelerate further to 7 per cent by March 2012," it said.
The review, however, felt that non-food manufactured products inflation continued to remain high and well above the comfort zone. 
"While indicators of pricing power suggest that the moderating trend will continue, upside risks remain significant. The momentum indicator of non-food manufactured products inflation is yet to show a discernible downward trend. Accordingly, while the Reserve Bank’s policy stance has to become more sensitive to growth risks, it also needs to guard against persistent inflation risks," it said.
"This policy review is set in the context of a highly uncertain global environment and a delicately poised domestic balance between growth and inflation," it said.
Subbarao said domestic GDP growth moderated from 7.7 per cent in Q1 (April-June) to 6.9 per cent in Q2 (July-September) of 2011-12. This was mainly due to deceleration in industrial growth from 6.7 per cent to 2.8 per cent. However, the services sector held up relatively well. Consequently, GDP growth during H1 (April-September) of  2011-12  slowed to 7.3 per cent from 8.6 per cent in H1 of last year.
He said that, on the demand side, the contraction in fixed capital formation in Q2 was the main factor behind the slowdown in growth. The real gross fixed capital fo

ATS claims breakthrough in 13/7 Mumbal blasts case with two arrests

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad on Monday claimed it had achieved a major breakthrough in its investigations into the July 13, 2011 triple blasts in the city with the arrest of two of the main suspects - Naqi Ahmed and Nadeem Akhtar.
File photo of police at Opera House, one of the three places where serial bomb blasts claimed at least 27 lives and injured more than 130 people in Mumbai on July 13, 2011. UNI PHOTO
File photo of police at Opera House, one of the three places where serial bomb blasts claimed at least 27 lives and injured more than 130 people in Mumbai on July 13, 2011. UNI PHOTO
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) today claimed it had achieved a major breakthrough in its investigations into the July 13, 2011 triple blasts in the city with the arrest of two of the main suspects - Naqi Ahmed and Nadeem Akhtar.
ATS Chief Rakesh Maria told a news conference here that the police had also been able to uncover the financial trail and establish that Yasin Bhatkal, a top operative of the Indian Mujahideen, was the alleged mastermind behind the blasts, which had left 27 people killed and more than 130 others injured.
Police are on the lookout for Bhatkal and the three people who actually planted the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used in the blasts at Zhaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar in the city.
Maria said Naqi (22) and Nadeem (23) had been arrested on January 15 from Darbhanga district of Bihar. He said the two had stolen two scooters in which the explosives were planted at Zhaveri Bazaar and Opera House, two of the places where the blasts took place.
Both Naqi and Nadeem belonged to Darbhanga but had moved to Mumbai in September or October 2010.
He said Bhatkal had called Nadeem to Delhi, where he handed over to him Rs 1.5 lakhs and a cloth packet containing explosives to be handed over to the other accused, Naqee.
Maria said Naqi also helped Bhatkal choose a room to stay in Byculla in Mumbai and paid the advance for the accommodation. He said Naqi knew Bhatkal since 2008. According to him, Bhatkal used to visit Darbhanga to set up a terrorist module by indoctrinating youth in that area.
A view of the damaged private car which was parked at a road side at Kabutarkhana at Dadar, one of three places where bomb blasts claimed at least 27 lives and injured more than 130 people in Mumbai on July 13, 2011. UNI PHOTO
A view of the damaged private car which was parked at a road side at Kabutarkhana at Dadar, one of three places where bomb blasts claimed at least 27 lives and injured more than 130 people in Mumbai on July 13, 2011. UNI PHOTO
The ATS chief released to the media pictures of the trio. He said Bhatkal had left Mumbai on July 13 itself and never come back.
Maria said Naqi and Nadeem were also involved in the SIM card case, and were among the eight people arrested in that connection. Further, they helped Bhatkal in making a reccee of the blast sites, he said.
He said the police were on the lookout for three more accused in the blasts case, but declined to give out any further details as investigations were still in progress.
Maria said he had decided to hold the press conference, even while the investigations were still going on, in view of the speculation and rumour-mongering in the past few days which he felt was eroding the credibility of the police and had the potential of creating problems for the prosecution during the course of the trial in the case.
He said the investigations had been handed over to the ATS on July 18. He said ATS teams had, as part of their investigations, travelled to as many as 18 states of the country, many of them more than once. They had examined as many as 12373 witnesses and examined footage from more than 180 CCTV cameras at the three blast sites.
He said the ATS had obtained a lead in the last week of November and a team had left for Darbhanga in the first week of December.
Maria said the ATS had also recovered two more motorycles from Nadeem and Naqee, which they had stolen and planned to use in future terrorist attacks.
According to him, the financial trail showed that the terorrists had used at least Rs 10 lakhs for the blasts.

Additional judges appointed to Bombay, Jharkhand High Courts

The President has appointed Manoj Shivlal Sanklecha, Ramesh Deokinandan Dhanuka, Sunil Prabhakarrao Deshmukh, Nitin Madhukar Jamdar and Sadhana Sanjay Jadhav as Additional Judges of the Bombay High Court.
An official press release said the appointments, in that order of seniority, would be for a period of two years with effect from the date they assume charge of their respective office.
The President has also appointed Aparesh Kumar Singh as an Additional Judge of the Jharkhand High Court for a period of two years with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office.

RIL Board approves buyback of upto 12 crore shares at maximum price of Rs 870

Reliance logo
Reliance logo
The Board of Directors of energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today unanimously approved the buyback of upto 12 crore fully paid up equity shares of Rs.10 each.
This will be at a price not exceeding Rs. 870 per equity share, payable in cash, upto an aggregate amount not exceeding Rs.10,440 crore from the open market through Stock Exchange(s), a press release from the company said.
The maximum buyback price represents a nearly 10 % premium over the last closing price
of Rs.792.65 today.
The Mukesh Ambani-led RIL is India’s largest private sector company on all major
financial parameters with a turnover of Rs 2,58,651 crore ($ 58.0 billion), cash profit of
Rs 34,530 crore ($ 7.7 billion), net profit of Rs 20,286 crore ($ 4.5 billion) and net
worth of Rs 1,51,540 crore ($ 34.0 billion) as of March 31, 2011.
The announcement came on a day when Reliance also reported a 13.6 per cent decline in its net profit for the third quarter ending December 2011 to Rs 4440 crore from Rs 5136 crore in the same quarter of the previous fiscal year. It was the lowest quarterly profit achieved by the company in two years
The company's turnover rose 40.2 per cent at Rs 87,480 crore in the third quarter from Rs 62399 crore in the same quarter of last year.
In the nine months to December 2011, RIL's turnover increased by 37.4 per cent to Rs 251,958 crore, exports were up 55.2 per cent to Rs 156,753 crore and net profit rose 6 per cent to Rs 15804 crore.
"The  global  nature of our businesses and weakness in economic conditions resulted in  reduced  earnings in the quarter, particularly in our refining and petrochemicals businesses," Ambani said.
"Notwithstanding these challenges, Reliance has delivered reasonably robust results with high operating leverage. Our focus remains on  enhancing shareholder value by leveraging an exceptionally strong balance sheet, operating top decile assets and investing prudently in future growth engines," he added.
RIL had cash and cash equivalents of Rs 74,539 crore. These were primarily in fixed 
deposits, certificate of deposits with banks, mutual funds and Government securities / bonds, a press release from the company added.

Central team says Mumbai cases are in XDR TB category and not TDR TB


A Central team that visited Mumbai to examine the drug resistant tuberculosis cases reported by the Hinduja Hospital has, in its report, said that they fell within the category of Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XDR TB), based on standard World Health Organisation (WHO) definitions, and not at all Totally Drug Resistance TB (TDR TB) cases.
The report, which was submitted to Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad, also made the point that TDRTB was a "non-standard term", not endorsed by the WHO.
It said Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) guidelines for quality diagnosis and management of XDR TB are to be applied in all such cases.
The team said diagnosis of XDR TB must be based on microbiological confirmation from accredited national reference laboratories: National Institute of Research in TB - Chennai, National TB Institute -   Bangalore and LRS Institute of TB and Respiratory Diseases- New Delhi.

Former BOB CMD A C Shah passes away in Mumbai

Former Bank of Baroda Chairman and Managing Director A C Shah passed away here today after a brief illness. He was 79.
Shah was at the time of his death the non-executive independent chairman of S Kumars Nationwide Limited (SKNL) and a director of Reid & Taylor India Limited.
An eminent economist and educationist, Shah had nearly 30 years of experience in banking. He had a doctorate in economics.
Other directorships held by him included Adani Enterprises Limited; Gujarat Petro Synthesis Limited; Benchmark Mutual Fund Trustee Company Limited; Goldcrest Finance (India)Limited; Brandhouse Retails Limited; Goenka Diamonds & Jewels Limited and Elecon Engineering Limited. He was also a trustee of Lilavati Kirtilal Mehta Medical Trust.
Group SKNL in a statement said, “A man of great stature, Dr. A. C. Shah was an inspiration and will be missed dearly by all of us.”

Balkrishan Batra appointed as Deputy Managing Director of IDBI Bank

Balkrishan Batra, Executive Director, IDBI Bank, has been appointed as whole-time Director, designated as Deputy Managing Director, on the Board of Directors of IDBI Bank Ltd. by the Government.
Batra is currently looking after the Corporate Banking function comprising Infrastructure Corporate Group, Large Corporate Group, Project Appraisal Department, Debt Syndication, Structuring & Advisory Department and Support Services Corporate Banking dealing with analysis and formulation of corporate level policies and processes. 
In addition, he is also discharging responsibility as Chairman of Credit Committee and Systems & Procedures, Products & Staff Suggestions Committee as also Member of Investment Committee, Asset Liability Management Committee and several other committees.
Batra has served IDBI Bank in various positions from 1983 till date. He had earlier joined State Bank of India in 1978 as a Probationary Officer before leaving it in 1983.
Batra is a B.Com (Hons.) from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi, C.A.I.I.B. from Indian Institute of Bankers, Mumbai, M.B.A. from Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi and C.F.A. from Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India, Hyderabad.

Pianist Terry Riley to perform in Mumbai on January 21

Terry Riley
Terry Riley
The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) has organised a piano recital by the well-known pianist and composer Terry Riley at the Tata Theatre here on January 21.
Riley's career spans some 50 years since the time he was a Master of Music candidate at the University of California. Back then, he gave concerts with his colleagues, La Monte Young, David Del Tredici and Pauline Oliveros. Over the years, he has performed all over the world and also issued CDs of his piano music.
According to an NCPA press release, Riley has learnt Indian classical music from the great kirana master, Pran Nath, and accompanied him in many concerts till his demise in 1996. 
He is a prolific composer having written in virtually every form including solo piano, a chamber opera, a triple concerto for two guitars and violin, two violin concertos, a piano concerto, works for choir and orchestra besides 23 works for string quartet, which include a string quartet concerto and a piano quintet. 
His seminal work IN C changed the course of western classical music in 1964, and introduced the style that was to be named Minimalism. IN C is arguably the most performed and famous piece of the latter part of the 20th century.
Riley was named one of the 1,000 makers of the 20th century, by the The Times of London. 
The release said the event would include works spanning the past 34 years:
Baby’s Song (2001) was written for the play Josephine, the Mouse Singer by Michael McClure.
The Bull (2008) is an arrangement for piano of a work originally written for the massive organ at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Simply M... (2007) was written in memory of Margaret Lyon, who was the chairman of the Mills College, California) music department and who always encouraged Riley to compose.
Song from the Old Country (1979) is a work commissioned by the Kronos String Quartet.
I Like Your Eyes, Liberty (2003) is a piece in three sections played without pause and  rotating in rondo fashion.
Requiem for Wally (1989) was written in memory of Riley’s ragtime piano mentor, Wally Rose, one of the great masters of the ragtime style. This work combines elements of ‘Ragtime’ with sections built on the Raga Nat Bhairav. Much of the ragtime pattern in Requiem... is in 7/4 instead of the traditional 4/4 meter. 
Salome Dances for Peace (1985–87) is a cycle of five string quartets and was also commissioned by the Kronos quartet. Riley subsequently adapted the materials for solo piano.
The Shape of Flames (2008) was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a solo organ concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles in 2008. Riley will play an adapted piano version at the NCPA.

Essar Shipping inducts first Mini Cape vessel into its operating fleet

MV Kamlesh
MV Kamlesh

Essar Shipping Limited (ESL) today said that it had inducted MV Kamlesh, its first Mini cape bulk carrier vessel, into its fleet as part of a $1 bllion capital expenditure programme to acquire 12 vessels and two jack-up rigs.

M V Kamlesh, built at STX Dalian Shipyard, is the first in a series of six vessels that ESL will induct in the next six months, a press release from the company, a part of the Essar Group, said.

After acquiring all the 12 vessels, the DWT will go up to 2.6 million tonnes from 1.71 million tonnes making Essar Shipping among the top two private sector shipping companies in India.

It is today one of the largest private sector shipping companies in India, owning the largest fleet of Capesize vessels.

According to the release, Kamlesh is a 253 metre long, 43 metre wide vessel with a cargo capacity of 105000 dwt.

The vessel is fully compliant with international maritime regulations in force as on date, the release said.

The six modern state-of-the-art vessels being built for Essar at STX Shipyard are specially designed shallow drafted vessels, that will provide substantially higher cargo carrying capacity focused on draft conditions of Indian ports.

“Essar Shipping is in the process of enhancing fleet capacity through induction of six MiniCape vessels and six Supramax dry bulk carriers. With the current tonnage of 1.71 million DWT (deadweight tonnes) with the addition of this vessel, Essar Shipping continues to serve its customers efficiently with

a fleet comprising of VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) tankers, Capesize vessels, Supramaxes, mini bulk carriers and other lighterage & transshipment assets," A. R. Ramakrishnan- Managing Director, Essar Shipping Limited said.

"The fleet capacity will rise significantly to 2.6 million DWT after completion of induction of all the 12 vessels. With its shallow draft and high cargo carrying capacity, ESL is confident that these uniquely designed MiniCapesize vessels will make trade to the Indian coast more economical and cost effective for clients in the power, steel and other core sectors," he added.


Govt. investigating reports of drug resistant tuberculosis cases in Mumbai


The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare today said it had sent a Central team of doctors to Mumbai to ascertain facts about the reported cases of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) cases.
An official press release said here today that the team, comprising the Senior Chief Medical Officer, Central TB Division (CTD), Government of India (GOI); Consultant (Drug Resistant TB), CTD and National Programme Officer (Lab.), WHO-India, reached Mumbai yesterday and started situation analysis. 
The team is in touch with the health authorities of Maharashtra and Mumbai Corporation, while also involving experts from concerned stake holders including Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai. 

Man from Goa commits suicide outside Mumbai airport

A man, hailing from Goa allegedly committed suicide outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport here, police said.

Manuel Pereira hung himself from an iron rod from a bridge outside the airport early yesterday.

He was travelling on a Dubai-Goa flight, which was on transit in the city. After taking out his baggage and placing it at the airport, he ventured out of the premises to take the extreme step, police said, adding that his family had been contacted in Goa.

He was identified from the passport in his pocket, police said.

A case of accidental death has been registered by police and the cause of suicide was yet to be ascertained, they added.


ACB-CBI sleuths arrest two former directors of Air India

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) sleuths of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have arrested two former Directors of Air India for alleged financial irregularities in the purchase of Potable Entertainment Appliances (PEA) from private firms causing loss to the government exchequer. 

CBI sources said here today that cases had been registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Amod Sharma, former Director, In-Flight Services, and V Shrikrishna, former Director, Materials, Air India, Mumbai, for alleged financial irregularities in the matter of purchase of PEA from private firms.  
Searches were conducted for two days at 13 places in Mumbai and Delhi at the office and residential premises of the accused, leading to the recovery of documents related to seven properties in the name of Sharma and three properties in the name of Shrikrishna.  
During searches, Sharma was found in possession of gold ornaments to the tune of Rs 9 lakh along with a bank balance of Rs 17.35 lakh. Further investigation is in progress, the sources added.  

CBI begins preliminary enquiry in alleged defence land scam at Kandivli in Mumbai

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) into the alleged irregularities in the sale of defence land to private company at Kandivli in Mumbai.
The PE was registered on Thursday, based on a report received from the Additional Director General (Discipline and Vigilance), Ministry of Defence.
The report had said that certain senior Army officers, while serving in the Southern Command, committed gross misconduct inasmuch as a plot of land, which was in the possession of Central Ordnance Depot (COD), Kandivli, Mumbai was relinquished unauthorizedly and later on it was sold by the Maharashtra government to a Mumbai-based builder.
The builder has constructed a 31-storeyed building of apartments on the plot, which is about an acre, overlooking the Ordnance Depot of the Army and thereby compromised the security of the Ordnance. 
The report also alleged serious complicity of some of then officials in the office of Collector, Mumbai.
According to sources, the plot was part of 13.28 acres of land that the Army had hired from the Maharashtra government in 1940 for a period of 99 years.

Bombay HC issues notice to Railways on accident victims


Bombay High Court today issued a show cause notice to officials of Indian Railways on providing immediate medical attention during the "golden hour" (within one hour of an accident) to Railway accident victims.
The court had earlier asked the Railways and the Maharashtra government to sort out their differences over transporting victims to the nearest hospital. 
It has been established that getting a victim to a hospital within the golden hour gives him/her a high chance of survival.  
The court was hearing a contempt petition filed by social activist Samir Zaveri, who lost his legs in a railway accident. Zaveri filed the petition since the Railways failed to comply with the HC’s directions in connection with his public interest litigation (PIL) regarding commuters’ safety. 

Major fire guts garment unit at Hiranandani Estate in Mumbai

A major fire broke out in the Hiranandani Industrial Estate at Kanjurmarg in the eastern suburb late last night.
The fire broke out at around 2245 hrs in a readymade garments manufacturing unit, and spread to nearby areas in the unit, according to fire brigade sources.
No casaulty was reported, the sources said adding that 16 fire fighting tenders, six water tankers and two ambulances were deployed to extinguish the blaze.
The cause of fire and the extent of damages were yet to be ascertained, they added.

BSE Sensex falls by 138.35 points to 16,037.51

The Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) slipped today by 138.35 points to settle at 16,037.51 following selling in IT, Technology and Capital Goods stocks.
The Sensex registered the day's high and low at 16,178.58 and 15,962.59 points, respectively.
The Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) declined by 29.70 points at 4,831.25.
The Nifty recorded the day's high and low at 4,869.20 and 4,803.90
points, respectively.

Sify Technologies establishes undersea cable landing station in Mumbai

Sify Technologies Limited, a provider of managed enterprise, network and IT services in India with global delivery capabilities, today announced the operational readiness of its Undersea Cable Landing Station in Mumbai.
"Sify is being increasingly recognised as a leading integrated ICT (Information & Communication Technology) company and this cable landing station is an important milestone in our journey," Raju Vegesna, CEO and Managing Director, Sify Technologies, said.
"We now look forward to partnering with telecom service providers and playing a larger active role in the communication revolution that is unfolding in the Asia Pacific region, Middle East and Africa. With capacity to land additional submarine cable systems, this connectivity will open a larger market for our industry-leading Managed Enterprise and Data Centre Services in the Middle Eastern market," he said.

Maharashtra Governor hospitalised on complaints of giddiness

Maharashtra and Goa Governor K Sankaranarayanan has been admitted to Bombay Hospital following complaints of  giddiness.
He was admitted in the cardiac ward on the 12th floor of the hospital yesterday afternoon.
Doctors said Sankaranarayanan was responding to treatment. He is under observation of Dr B K Goyal, Dean of Bombay Hospital,
After undergoing tests, he will soon be discharged, Raj Bhavan sources added.

Dia Mirza fined Rs 1 lakh for carrying undeclared goods


Model-turned-actress Dia Mirza was fined over Rs 1 lakh for carrying undeclared goods after her return from Bangkok early today at the Chhatrapati Shivaji international airport here.

After her arrival in a Thai Airways flight, she was found carrying branded purses and cosmetics, a customs official said.
Mirza was asked to pay a fine of over Rs 1 lakh and later allowed to go after she paid the amount, he added.

Kamat requests for MRCC meeting on alliance with NCP


Gurudas Kamat, former Union Minister and Congress MP from Mumbai, who has expressed strong reservations against the party's proposed alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for the February 16 municipal elections, today requested for a meeting of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) executive to discuss the matter. 

Kamat, a former MRCC chief, said there are many interpretations on his letter to the Congress President Sonia Gandhi sent yesterday on intra party matters. "I will not like to comment on this issue and the contents of the letter," Kamat said in a statement.
"However, to clear all misunderstandings inside and outside the party, I have requested Mr Kripashankar Singh, the MRCC President, to immediately convene a meeting of the MRCC Executive to discuss in detail the proposed alliance and the terms of the same by inviting all MPs, MLAs, Ministers from Mumbai, party corporators, DCC presidents and frontal organisation chiefs and the Mumbai Congress office-bearers to seek their opinion on the alliance," he said.
A lot of confusion prevails over certain "reported statements" of some NCP leaders, which has caused tremendous agony and pain to the loyalist Congress workers, which needs to be clarified and also to inform the Congress workers at large on what terms the proposed alliance is being thought of, Kamat said.
"There is no doubt that an alliance of secular parties is important, to keep the corrupt and communal parties away from the Mumbai Municipal Corporation in order to benefit India's commercial capital and to provide better infrastructure and amenities to the citizens of Mumbai. However this cannot be at the cost of self respect and unjustifiable demands," Kamat added.

BCCI turns down SLC suggestion to stage matches in Lanka


The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have apparently turned down a suggestion by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to stage a few of the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) games in the island nation.

The fifth edition of the IPL, comprising nine teams and 76 matches, will kickstart and end in Chennai, with the opening match on April 4 and the final on May 27.
The teams will play each other at home and away during a league phase consisting of 72 games at 12, possibly 13, venues, beginning with the defending champions Chennai Super Kings playing Champions League T20 winners Mumbai Indians.

Syrian national detained at Mumbai airport

The Air Intelligence unit of the Customs detained a Syrian national at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport for trying to smuggle in anti-epilepsy tablets worth Rs 39 lakh.

Fifty four-year-old Mohammed Aljannyd, who was carrying 1,500 strips of the drug, was intercepted yesterday while he was crossing the green channel, customs sources said.
He had arrived from Turkey via Cairo in an Egypt Air flight. He did not have the requisite license to carry the drug, the sources said.
Aljannyd was later detained for questioning, the sources added.

Mahindra Blues Festival to be held in Mumbai on February 11-12

Five-time Grammy winner Buddy Guy, with special guest Robert Randolph, Taj Mahal Trio, John Lee Hooker Jr, Ana Popovic and Soulmate are some of artistes slated to perform at the second season of the Mahindra Blues Festival on February 11 and 12 in Mumbai.
The event, which will also have workshops and talks, will be held at the historic Mehboob Studios at Bandra in the metropolis, the Mahindra Group said.
Billed as Asia's largest and finest blues event, the weekend festival will give Indians a chance to witness a number of international blues superstars, many of whom are considered to be among the best in the world, and top home-grown talent like Soulmate, the organisers said.
Buddy Guy & Robert Randolph
Buddy Guy & Robert Randolph
“Our presence in various international markets helps us in transplanting local performing arts to other geographies thereby connecting communities around the world. The Mahindra Blues Festival – now an annual event and in its second year – is one such endeavour that seeks to promote a genre that has yet to receive the recognition it deserves in India and around the world," Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. said.
With a brand new line-up, multiple concerts and sessions with the artists, and an iconic venue designed to create a fantastic blues-like atmosphere, the festival promises to be one to look forward to, a press release from the organisers said.
Chicago Blues veteran and multi-Grammy winner Buddy Guy, a definitive Blues artiste and a key influence on popular rock and Blues artistes like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan will be on his second visit to perform at the festival, and will also feature special guest and funk legend Robert Randolph who was included by the Rolling Stones Magazine in its list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Taj Mahal  Photo By Baron Wolmans Circa 1974 Berkeley C
Taj Mahal Photo By Baron Wolmans Circa 1974 Berkeley C
The line-up also includes two-time Grammy nominee John Lee Hooker Jr., and award-winning Serbian blues guitarist and singer Ana Popovi. Grammy winner and nine-time nominee Henry Saint Clair Fredericks’s well-known blues outfit, Taj Mahal Trio will join these artistes.

BSE Sensex slips by 56.72 points to 15,882.64

The Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) slipped today by 56.72 points to settle at 15,882.64 on profit booking at higher levels from local operators amid a mixed trend in Asian markets.
The Sensex registered the day's high and low at 16,004.69 and 15,822.32 points, respectively.
The National Stock Exchange (NSE) lost by 15.65 points to 4,749.65.
The Nifty recorded the day's high and low at 4,782.85 and 4,728.85 points, respectively.

CBI arrests railway employee, tout in job racket


The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested a senior technician of Central Railway, who is also an assistant secretary of CRMS, a trade union, and a tout for allegedly taking bribes from aspirants after promising them jobs in the Railways through political connections.

The arrested employee was identified as Rammani Tripathi and the alleged middleman as Balaji Shelke Patil.
The two were produced before a court in Mumbai, which remanded them to police custody till January 13, a CBI press release said here yesterday.
According to the release, two cases were registered at CBI, Mumbai against the employee for demanding bribes of Rs 5 lakh each from two aspirants for arranging for them jobs of Ticket Collector in the Railways from the "VIP quota" through some senior railway officers and politicians in New Delhi.
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