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Portfolios of RBI Dy. Governors reshuffled, Deepali Pant Joshi is new ED

The portfolios of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Deputy Governors have been re-allocated after the end of the tenure of Deputy Governor Subir Gokarn on December 31.

A press release from the RBI said here yesterday that, in addition to existing portfolios, Dr K C Chakrabarty will now also look after DICGC, Rajbhasha Department and Right to Information Division.
 
Mr Anand Sinha will look after Department of Communication and Risk Monitoring Department and Mr H R Khan after Financial Markets Department. Department of Economic and Policy Research, 
 
The Department of Statistics and Information Management and Monetary Policy Department will report directly to Governor D Subbarao till further orders, it said.
 
Meanwhile, Dr. Deepali Pant Joshi has taken over as the new Executive Director at the RBI. She will look after Customer Service Department and Rural Planning and Credit Department. Dr. Joshi will also be the Alternate Appellate Authority under the Right to Information Act.
 
Prior to her appointment as Executive Director, Dr. Joshi was the Regional Director of RBI, Rajasthan.
 
A doctorate in political economy of development of South and South East Asia 1975-1980 from the University of Allahabad, Dr. Joshi also holds a bachelor’s degree in law with specialisation in Administrative Law.  She has written extensively on rural credit and financial inclusion, the release added.
 
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Ashwani Kumar takes over as CMD of Dena Bank

Ashwani Kumar
Ashwani Kumar

Mr Ashwani Kumar, a veteran banker, took over here today as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of the public sector Dena Bank for a period of five years. 

Mr Kumar has a rich banking experience of over 31 years serving in Allahabad Bank and Corporation Bank.
 
Prior to joining Dena Bank,  he was the Executive Director of the Corporation Bank since December 1, 2010. 
 
Mr Kumar, who has a post-graduate degree in Chemistry, is a Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers. He had joined Allahabad Bank in 1981 as Probationary Officer at Lucknow. 
 
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The business of Poking, Snapchatting & Sexting

Image courtesy: Snapchat
Image courtesy: Snapchat

Yet another war has broken out in cyberspace. The warring sides, this time, are photo sharing applications, Snapchat and Poke. Never heard of them? Then, before getting into the meat of things, allow me to give you a brief introduction.

Both, Snapchat and Poke are almost similar photo apps. Poke is a born-again avatar of a previous feature of Facebook, while Snapchat is a brand new, California, USA-based, Android & iOS device app. 
 
What makes both of them "unique" is what they claim to deliver – messages, images, videos – all of which self-destruct within a stipulated time frame. Yes, you heard right. Self-destruct, go poof, absolutely no record left behind. That’s what makes both these apps special.
 
Such a service is known by many names – impermanent photo messaging, ephemeral messaging, and the very popular one –sexting. No prizes for guessing why. Since the average lifespan of each message is about 10 seconds, you can send across a ‘private’ image (read naughty) you want without worrying about its consequences or fallout like the photo falling into the wrong hands, or being retained on servers (which makes the possibility of them being leaked by hackers quite distinct).
 
Snapchat and Poke messages can be set to self-destruct within a few seconds, the maximum allowed being 10 seconds. Poke images, though, ‘remain’ on the servers for a slightly longer duration (till the time of the writing of this piece). An image remains on FB servers for 2 days after the recipient’s last view just in case of any abuse allegations that may come up. After that, the encryption key is destroyed but it is still possible to retrieve the message for 90 more days from logs, etc.
 
Facebook has said it was working in reducing this period. Also, the minute you try to take a screenshot of such pictures on either app, the sender is alerted.
 
The enormity and consequences of such apps is still being figured out. Let me put it this way –sexting is still being digested across the Internet. But by now, readers would have got a fair idea of what Snapchat and Poke are into.
 
Now, coming to the war. Poke re-launched barely a few days ago, raising howls of protests from Snapchat and its users. Snapchat was available in October this year so it is but natural that copycat accusations are being hurled by the latter against the former. 
 
Facebook, which also bought over the very popular photo sharing app, Instagram, in April this year, is thus using two weapons in its arsenal against Snapchat, Poke and Instagram. But the guys at Snapchat and it millions of users do not seem like giving in to the competition easily.
 
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Online publications are reporting on this full-fledged war on a day-to-day basis. Partly because it’s getting murkier, partly because the year’s coming to an end, and it’s being a relatively slow news week, what with the holiday season, and all.
 
Take this story in the Business Insider, for instance. The report talks of the users’ review and comments on the Poke page. ‘Stolen’, ‘Should be sued for copyright violation’ are some examples. But according to the report, some users have agreed that Poke is a better version of Snapchat.
 
One of Snapchat’s co-founders, Evan Spiegel, also got on to this band wagon when Poke was launched. In identical statements to The Verge and TechCrunch, Evan had said, ‘Welcome, Facebook. Seriously.’ 
 
This was a play on an old Apple newspaper advertisement published in the Wall Street
Journal in 1981 titled, ‘ Welcome, IBM, seriously.’ Apple had run this ad after IBM had introduced its 1st PC.
 
The other measure of popularity being deployed by Poke and Snapchat users is which of the two apps is more popular on the Apple Store. Barely 24 hours after it was launched, Poke had taken over the No:1 slot, only to plummet to as low as No:36 in the next few days. Snapchat, on the other hand, was sitting at the No:4 slot, till the time of the writing of this column.
 
Previous columns by Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla is a journalist with near three decades of experience and has worked in well-known Indian and international print and television media organizations such as The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, The Indian Express, United News of India (UNI), The Gulf Today and India TV.
 
He has founded a Knowledge Services firm called New Age Content Services LLP, that leverages on the inherent strengths of the digital world. He also edits the website, www.whatsnewonthenet.com.
 
You can write to him at newagecontent@gmail.com
 
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Entries invited for Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards 2013

The Mahindra Group has invited entries for the eighth edition of the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) to be held in March 2013.

The awards celebrate excellence in theatre and stage craft and entries are invited from theatre productions across the country for original or adapted plays, in any language, staged between January 1, 2012 and January 10, 2013.
 
"Recognizing and rewarding all aspects of theatre production and stage craft, META is one of the Indian theatre industry’s premier awards," a press release from META said.
 
It said META provides a concrete platform to celebrate and promote theatre’s varied elements like playwriting, set design, costume and light design, direction and performance.
 
Instituted by the Mahindra Group, as part of their commitment to promoting the arts, META 2013 aims at bringing together the best of Indian theatre from the year gone by. 
 
The awards consist of a specially designed trophy and a cheque of Rs.100,000 for the Best Production, Rs.75,000 for Best Original Playwright and Rs.45,000 for all other award categories.
 
“The Indian theatre industry, with its myriad languages, indigenous styles and rich cultural diversity, has a lot to offer and META is a national award dedicated to celebrating all aspects of this industry. Every year, we witness increasing enthusiasm from theatre companies as well as audiences across the country. With its finger on the pulse of Indian theatre, META 2013 hopes to continue this celebration on a grander scale," Mr Ravi Dubey, Creative Director of META 2013, said.
 
“Our commitment to theatre as an art form over the past eight years has been a truly gratifying experience. Each year, as we see artists from remote areas of India give talented performances for a discerning yet appreciative audience in the nation’s capital, we enact our own Mahindra script of enabling people to Rise," Mr Jay Shah, Head – Cultural Outreach, Group Strategy Office, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, said.
 
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Govt. to disinvest 12.5% of equity in Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved the disinvestment of 12.5 percent paid up equity capital of the Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd (RCF), that is 6,89,61,012 shares each of face value of Rs. 10 each, out of the Government of India’s shareholding of 92.5 percent, in the domestic market, as per SEBI Rules and Regulations. 

The paid up equity capital of the company is Rs. 551.69 crore having 55,16,88,100 equity shares, each of face value Rs.10, an official press release said.
 
RCF is a Schedule `A` listed Mini-Ratna Central public sector enterprise (CPSE) under the administrative control of the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers.
 
It is engaged in the business of manufacturing and marketing fertilizers, industrial chemicals such as methanol, methylamines, ammonium bicarbonate, ammonium nitrate and so on from its two operating units at Trombay and Thal in Maharashtra and marketing of these products.
 
The company has one subsidiary, Rajasthan Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd. and three joint ventures, with shareholding ranging between 33.3 percent and 50 percent. 
 
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Sachin Tendulkar announces retirement from one-day internationals

 
Sachin Tendulkar retires from ODI cricket

India's batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from one-day internationals (ODIs), bringing the curtains down on a 23-year career in the limited overs format of the game.

A statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said Tendulkar spoke to its president N Srinivasan and conveyed his decision to retire from the one-day format of the game.
 
“I have decided to retire from the one day format of the game.  I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup wining Indian team," a statement from Tendulkar, distributed by the BCCI, said.
 
"The preparatory process to defend the World Cup in 2015 should begin early and in right earnest.  I would like to wish the team all the very best for the future. I am eternally grateful to all my well wishers for their unconditional support and love over the years," he added.
 
Universally acknowledged as one of the greatest and most complete batsmen of all time, next perhaps only to Sir Don Bradman, Tendulkar, 39, is the leading run-scorer in both Test and one-day cricket.
 
He is the only cricketer to have scored a hundred centuries in international cricket, including 49 ODI centuries and 51 Test hundreds. He is the first batsman to score 15,000 runs in Test cricket and has played the highest number of Test and ODI matches.
 
The Government had honoured Tendulkar with the Padma Vibhushan, the nation's second highest civilian award, in 2005. He is also a recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, India's highest sporting honour.
 
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In June this year, Tendulkar became a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Indian Parliament, the first active sportsman to serve as one.
 
Born on April 24, 1973, the dimunutive top-order right-hand batsman has played 463 one-day internationals and scored 18426 runs from 452 innings, for an average of 44.83 and a highest score of 200 not out -- the first double century by anyone in this format of the game.
 
He has also played 194 Tests so far and made 15645 runs from 320 innings for an average of 54.32 with a highest score of 248 not out.
 
He has also taken 154 wickets in ODIs with an average of 44.48. He played only one T20 International, against South Africa at Johannesburg on December 1, 2006.
 
Tendulkar made his ODI debut for India against Pakistan at Gujranwala on December 18, 1989. For the record, he scored a duck in that match.
 
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Remembering passwords may soon be a thing of the past

 

Two things caught my eye amidst all that clutter of year-end “best” lists. The first is a soon-to-be-released smartphone application that has the potential of ridding us of one of the biggest painpoints of digital life – passwords.

The other was that photo sharing application, Instagram, which has been in the news for the past one month or so, for one reason or the other, was reportedly planning to sell photographs uploaded by its members.
 
In a sense, it’s the story of two smartphone apps. The first is about to happen, the second, though denied by the app in question, is linked to a larger issue. I shall talk of the first, first.
 
I am sure if a snap poll were to be taken on ‘Name the top 5 problems you face in digital life’, a password-oriented online eco-system will find its way to top of that list. Almost everything that we do in our lives today is linked to a password. By that I mean any transaction, online or offline. Online bank transfers, use of social networks, email accounts, bank accounts, for that matter, any form of online payment system….I could go on. 
 
Well, the next thing that all of us were grappling with – how do we remember all those dashes, upper cases, asterix, not to mention, numbers and other assorted zombie characters.
 
One does realize that passwords are for secure transactions and in our interests. But how many can a single human brain retain in its inner, memory recesses? There are some services and applications that provide you with a “secure” digital vault where you can store all your passwords…and to operate this account, you need….yup, one more password. A kind of single passwords to “recall” all your other passwords. But what happens if some hacker gets through this account, you are jacked.
 
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Now, a team of young entrepreneurs have decided to do something about this .Wow. Possible? Not many would have thought so before these guys thought up of LaunchKey, an application for iPhone and Android devices. Actually, passwords will remain under this but the way you use them to verify your account, shall change.
 
LaunchKey proposes to do away with the keying in of passwords in the login section. Instead, it gets down to physically verifying you are who you claim you are, and the true owner of the account you are trying to access.
 
Here’s how LaunchKey will work – Once you have downloaded the app on your phone, every time you try to log in into any of your online accounts, be what they may, you will get a message on your smartphone asking you to physically authenticate that transaction. All you then need to do is press the ‘Launch’ tab, which in turn, shall send a message to the account you are trying to login to, verifying your identity, allowing you to login. Simple.
 
I see many advantages to this: No need to remember any more passwords, a much more secure method of conducting your business ( since all the passwords, in a sense, will be on the phone you carry in your pocket) and instant alerts when some hacker is trying to get into your account.
 
These guys have already won some awards and got funding and promise that the app will be coming in the market soon. Till then, anyone who wants to read more or keep track of what I think could turn out to be a game-changer, can go to the LaunchKey website.
 
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While my website was reporting on LaunchKey came the news that another photo sharing
smartphone app, Instagram, was reportedly planning to sell photographs uploaded by its users. I am not too sure how this bit of news started doing the rounds, online. Here’s one such report by www.beforeitsnews.com . Quoting CNET, it says that a new intellectual property rights policy put into place by social network, Facebook, which acquired Instagram, some three months ago, and which will come into effect from January 16, 2013, allows Instagram and FB, perpetual rights to licence all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organizations, including for advertising purposes. This means, Instagram would instantly turn into one gigantic stock photo agency.
 
These reports were enough to cause a furore, and rightly so, I feel. Let us understand what Instagram is all about. To cut a long story short, it’s all about using filters on the photographs you shoot using your phone’s in-built camera. This app allows you to add different digital layers to make your photo look as if it’s shot by a professional. That’s the sum and summary of it.
 
Instagram publicly has denied any such more. But if you were to ask me, the entire controversy is linked to a larger question – the implementation of privacy, copyright and intellectual property laws. At the heart of the debate is – who owns the content that is uploaded on to such platforms, say Instagram or Facebook or Twitter? 
 
This column may not be the right platform to discuss a problem of this magnitude but suffice to say, with the advent of social networks and applications such as Instagram, this is not the first time, or even the last, that we will hear of such a move.
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These kind of sites have been a challenge to laws pertaining to intellectual property, pushing the boundaries, every passing day. For example – why are the Terms & Conditions (T&C) written in such a way that the ordinary user understands none of it. How many of us even bother to look at the T & C posted on every website. Of that, how many of us understand the legalese? What choice do users have, at the end of the day? If you want to be on say a Facebook or Twitter, you must agree to their T&Cs, or else, not have an account. That’s hardly a choice.
 
Leave alone privacy, what, for example, is the status of all that content like images uploaded on social sites? Does it belong to the user or the network? Can anyone who is reading this column, answer that? If so, write in to us with your reply.
 
Previous columns by Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla is a journalist with near three decades of experience and has worked in well-known Indian and international print and television media organizations such as  The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, The Indian Express, United News of India (UNI), The Gulf Today and India TV.
 
He has founded a Knowledge Services firm called New Age Content Services LLP, that leverages on the inherent strengths of the digital world. He also edits the website, www.whatsnewonthenet.com.
 
You can write to him at newagecontent@gmail.com
 
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L&T delivers first high speed interceptor boat to Coast Guard

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Engineering and construction major Larsen& Toubro  (L&T) as delivered its first indigenously designed and constructed high speed interceptor boat (IB) to the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).

A press release from the company said the IB, capable of achieving maximum speed of over 40 knots, was designed and constructed entirely through in-house efforts. 
 
This is the first of 36 such boats being constructed by L&T under a contract worth Rs. 977 crore from the ICG.
 
The IB has a full aluminium-alloy construction for reduced weight and is powered by twin water-jet propulsion systems to enable quick response which is vital for coastal surveillance activities. The  interceptors have the ability to operate in shallow water which will be critical for near- shore action. These boats are expected to significantly enhance India’s coastal  security.
 
The first boat was commissioned into  service yesterday at  Coast Guard District Headquarters at Porbandar under the command of COMCG (North-western Region).
 
Using the latest 3D software at L&T’s  state-of-the-art Marine  Design  Centre, the boat was first  developed as a virtual vessel in the office environment to ensure compliance with operability, maintainability and buildability, before issuing the drawings to the shop floor, the release said.
 
"During the recently concluded sea trials, the boat has achieved the stringent performance parameters of speed and endurance, which is a testimony to L&T’s sound ship design and construction capabilities.It also opens up avenues for possible export of such boats," the release added.
 
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Harvard Business School announces programme for Indian corporate leaders

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Harvard Business School (HBS) has announced a new programme, Managing and Transforming Professional Service Firms – India, that will take place from January 16-19 at the HBS style classroom at Taj Lands End, Mumbai as part of its Executive Education programme portfolio for India.

A press release from HBS said the programme would focus on providing corporate leaders proven approaches to align their service capabilities with strategy and improving organizational performance.
 
Led by HBS faculty, Thomas J. DeLong, Philip J. Stomberg Professor of Management Practice, Rajiv Lal, Stanley Roth, Sr. Professor of Retailing and Ashish Nanda, Robert Braucher of Law from Practice, the programme will help participants acquire skills to define and execute the best service-delivery strategy for their firm, it said.
 
DeLong, Faculty Chair of Managing and Transforming Professional Service Firms – India), said, “Successful companies recognize the importance of capitalizing on emerging opportunities as they prepare to expand – domestically or globally. This programme addresses the challenges facing leaders of professional service companies seeking to build scale and create franchise value, by providing established approaches for managing client expectations, exploring alternative cost/billing structures, and formulating a sound business strategy – all key drivers of profitability.”
 
The release said that, by exploring management challenges from multiple viewpoints, the programme will prepare participants to capture emerging opportunities in India and across the globe. In addition to developing the tools and frameworks to address a company’s specific challenges, participants will also gain valuable insights into these common issues from opinions and experiences expressed by a distinguished group of international peers.  
 
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As with all HBS Executive Education programmes, the India portfolio will be taught by members of the school’s own full-time faculty using the renowned HBS case method in a newly opened, state-of-the-art multimedia case study classroom at Taj Land’s End Hotel. The participants comprising senior executives from various industries will enjoy an interactive experience that extends the learning process through personal and professional networks long after the conclusion of the programme, the release added.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders worth Rs 1009 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction division had secured new orders valued at more than Rs 1009 crores in November and till date in December.

A press release from the company said its Buildings & Factories business had won new orders worth Rs 852 crore for the design and construction of a major IT campus facility in the National Capital Region of Delhi, and also for the construction of multi-storied residential towers in Bangalore.
 
The Metallurgical & Minerals Handling business of L&T Construction in consortium with Luet China has bagged an order valued at Rs 206 crore from Steel Authority of India Limited for rebuilding and construction of a Coke Oven Battery at Durgapur Steel Plant.
 
L&T’s share of the order is Rs 157 crore, the release added.
 
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RBI retains repo rate unchanged at 8%, CRR at 4.25%

The Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday kept its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility unchanged at 8.0 per cent and the cash reserve ratio of scheduled banks unchanged at 4.25 per cent of their net demand and time liabilities.
RBI logo

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today kept its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 8.0 per cent and the cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks unchanged at 4.25 per cent of their net demand and time liabilities.

Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF will remain unchanged at 7.0 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) and the Bank Rate at 9.0 per cent, the RBI said in its Mid-Quarter Monetary Policy Review, December 2012.
 
The central bank said this had been done on the basis of its current macroeconomic assessment.
 
In its guidance, the RBI noted that headline inflation had been below its projected levels over the past two months. The decline in core inflation has also been comforting, it said.
 
"These emerging patterns reinforce the likelihood of steady moderation in inflation going into 2013-14, though inflation may edge higher over the next two months. In view of inflation pressures ebbing, monetary policy has to increasingly shift focus and respond to the threats to growth from this point onwards. 
 
"Liquidity conditions will be managed with a view to supporting growth as stated in the SQR (Second Quarter Review), thereby preparing the ground for further shifting the policy stance to support growth. Overall, recent inflation patterns and projections provide a basis for reinforcing our October guidance about policy easing in the fourth quarter. However, risks to inflation remain and accordingly, even as the policy emphasis shifts towards growth, the policy stance will remain sensitive to these risks," it said.
 
The RBI said lead indicators pointed to a modest firming up in the momentum of global growth over the rest of 2012 and in 2013 if there were firm policy action in the euro area and the United States.
 
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"The biggest risk to the outlook stems from political economy considerations that could impede, delay or erode resolute policy action. The consequences could be deepened financial stress and heightened risk aversion. For EDEs, the threat of spillovers remains significant in view of the depressed outlook for global trade and volatile capital flows. Although inflation pressures appear to be moderating, elevated food and commodity prices remain contingent risks, especially for EDEs facing domestic supply constraints," it said.
 
According to the review, on the domestic front, GDP growth is evolving along the baseline projection of 5.8 per cent for 2012-13 set out in the SQR. 
 
"The recent policy initiatives by the Government and further reforms should help to boost business sentiment and improve the investment climate. As regards inflation, excess capacity in some sectors is working towards moderating core inflation. Furthermore, the easing of international commodity prices, particularly of crude, is expected to impart some softening bias to the evolving inflation conditions if it is not offset by the impact of rupee depreciation. 
 
"The Reserve Bank is closely monitoring the evolving growth-inflation dynamic and will update the formal numerical assessment of its growth and inflation projections for 2012-13 as part of the third quarter review in January 2013," it said.
 
The review said that, since the SQR of October 2012, the global economy had shown some signs of stabilisation although the situation remained fragile.
 
"While activity is picking up in the US and the UK, near-term prospects in the euro area are still weak. Moreover, there is no clarity as yet on how the US ‘fiscal cliff’ might be managed. While several emerging and developing economies (EDEs) are gradually returning to higher growth, weak external demand and contagion risks from advanced economies (AEs) render them vulnerable to further shocks," it said.
 
According to it, on the domestic front, there are some incipient signs of pick-up though growth remains significantly below its recent trend. Also, though consumer price inflation remains stubborn, the pace of moderation in wholesale price inflation has been faster than anticipated. With food and manufacturing prices expected to edge down further, inflationary pressures may ease somewhat in the coming months, it said.
 
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The review said GDP growth in Q2 of 2012-13 at 5.3 per cent was marginally lower than 5.5 per cent in Q1. However, there are some indications of a modest firming up of activity in Q3. 
 
"Industrial activity rose sharply in October but this is, in large part, due to a low base and festival-related demand which propelled the growth of both consumer durables and non-durables into double digits. 
 
"Significantly, capital goods production recorded a growth of 7.5 per cent after 13 successive months of decline. The manufacturing PMI rose moderately in November as order book volumes expanded. While the services PMI declined from a month ago, expansion in new business and order book volumes suggests positive sentiment about increasing activity in the months ahead. In the farm sector, rabi sowing coverage is expanding steadily, improving the prospects of agricultural growth," it said.
 
The RBI noted that headline WPI inflation edged down to 7.2 per cent in November, mainly owing to softening of prices of vegetables, minerals and fuel. On the other hand, prices of cereals and protein-based items such as eggs, fish and meat firmed up further. 
 
"Significantly, core (non-food manufactured products) inflation eased, aided by decline in prices of metals, cement and chemicals. The seasonally adjusted three-month moving average annualised momentum indicator also points to ebbing of inflationary pressures. However, in striking contrast to wholesale inflation developments, retail inflation remained elevated. The new combined (rural and urban) CPI (Base:2010=100) inflation increased in November, reflecting sustained food inflation pressures, particularly in respect of vegetables, cereals, pulses, oils and fats. The non-food component of the index also suggested persistent inflationary pressures," it said.
 
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It said that, with the step-up in oil imports persisting despite the moderation in crude prices, the cumulative trade deficit for April-November widened from its level a year ago indicating significant risks to the balance of payments from the adverse external environment. Even as capital inflows improved compared to Q2, there were downward pressures on the rupee reflecting the large trade and current account deficits, it added.
 
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Students create wall-size mural at Mumbai school

A 26 feet mosaic mural created by students at the Oberoi International School in Mumbai unveiled by sculptor Arzaan Khambatta on December 17, 2012. Read story.
A 26 feet mosaic mural created by students at the Oberoi International School in Mumbai unveiled by sculptor Arzaan Khambatta on December 17, 2012.
Read story.A 26 feet mosaic mural created by students at the Oberoi International School in Mumbai unveiled by sculptor Arzaan Khambatta on December 17, 2012.

Students create mosaic mural at Oberoi International School in Mumbai

A wall-size mosaic mural of 26 x 12 feet has been created as part of a 90-day collaborative effort to promote teacher-student-parent enterprise at the Oberoi International School (OIS) in the city.

The project was guided by artist in residence Kirstin Green, a renowned mosaic artist from the United States, as part of OIS' endeavour to nurture and promote creative talent of students and their parents with the involvement of the teaching faculty.
 
The mural was unveiled by sculptor Arzan Khambatta, who said, “I am very humbled being a part of the unveiling of this unique visual art.  The mosaic mural is one of the finest pieces of art I have come across at a school level; it is amazing to see students delivering a fine art piece with this professionalism and finishing. I would like to personally congratulate the art department at OIS encouraging the students for the mural and I am quite confident that there would be more to see in the coming years.”
 
“This entire exercise is a unique experience for our students. They not only learned new skills of the medium, but also teamwork. Some students have used their free time (after school hours, as well as weekends) to work on mosaic. Many other students may have not worked directly on the project but do know about it and have come down to see the work and often brought OIS.
 
Green is also working with seven other school-based community projects in the US and South Africa. Work on the mural began in September this year and continued through December. The work started with the guidance of Green on how to work with ceramic material, stained glass, glue, blueprints, construction and working on overall artistic collaboration upon completion. The materials were hammered, structured, and placed randomly or were cut and smoothed for a structured layout.
 
“Each step of designing a mural requires forethought, dedication and an overall vision of the larger picture, while focus has to be on each and every piece of the puzzle. It was truly a pleasure to interact with the ever enthusiastic students, and create something so beautiful,” said Green.
 
The completed mural portrays children of different nationalities, holding hands, flags of countries, a tree, the Taj Mahal, an elephant, a peacock, a staircase and a lotus which is the central focus of the piece.
 
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Bollywood actress Vidya Balan gets married to UTV CEO Siddharth Roy Kapoor

 
Vidya Balan officially Mrs Siddharth Roy Kapur

Well-known Bollywood actress Vidya Balan got married to UTV CEO Siddharth Roy Kapoor at a private and low-key ceremony at the Green Mile Bungalow in Bandra here today.

Only close family members and friends of the bride and bridegroom were present at the wedding, which was a mix of South Indian and Punjabi traditions.
 
The couple later posed for pictures as dozens of photographers clicked away merrily.
 
The newly-weds are set to host a reception in Chennai later, reports said.
 
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The most searched items of 2012, according to Google, Yahoo & Bing

It's that time of the year, folks. Time when almost all the search engines (at least those who think the exercise is worth it) release their lists of 'The Most' searched items of the year. 2012 is no different.

The most famous of these lists, as you may have guessed, is by Google, not withstanding the funny name given to this year-ender. It's called the Google Zeitgeist. Here's the meaning of Zeitgeist - the 'spirit of the times'. Aptly put.
 
Since we are on Google, let's begin with the list by this major domo of search engines. A word of caution, the Google Zeitgeist list is for every country. Yes, all the items searched by Internet users in every nation. Google claims there were 1.2 trillion searches in 146 languages. Not only that, the 'Most-Searched' list is divided into various topics, too. The "most searched" queries are the most popular terms for 2012--ranked in order of the queries with the largest volume of searches. 
 
But rather than go into individual countries and sections, etc, allow me to re-produce the "trending" queries, which according to Google, relate to the searches that had the highest amount of traffic "in a sustained period" during 2012.
 
Well, top of the list is the late US pop singer Whitney Houston. Her unexpected death last February put her on the top of the trending list straightaway. Whitney is followed by the YouTube sensation South Korean singer PSY with his Gangnam Style. Next on this list are Hurricane Sandy, the iPad 3, Diablo 3 and Kate Middleton.
 
What I was more interested is in the most searched gadgets of 2012. Here's that list: The Top 10 trending consumer electronics in 2012: iPad 3s,  Samsung Galaxy S III, iPad Mini, Nexus 7, Galaxy Note 2, Play Station,iPad 4,  Microsoft Surface, Kindle Fire, Nokia Lumia 920
 
The official Google Zeitgeist website features 838 lists from 55 countries and is actually quite a humungous though interesting site to read. For those of you who want to, here's the URL http://www.google.com/zeitgeist/2012/#the-world
 
Next on the block is the Most-Searched List released by Yahoo! This particular list is somewhat on predictable lines but for one exception. While the standard celebrities and gadgets figure on top of the Yahoo! list too, the US 2012 elections take the number one slot.
 
The Top 5 were: US elections, iPhone 5, Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton and Kate Middleton.
 
The Top 5 Gadgets searched on Yahoo! in 2012 were the iPhone 5, iPad 3, iPad Mini, Samsung Galaxy III & the Kindle Fire.
 
Moving on to another Search Engine, Bing. This search engine was first off the block, releasing its list as early as November. In the Tech list not many surprises, however. Taking top position was the iPhone 5, followed by the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy S III, Kindle and iPad 3.
 
Where news and searches revolving around the social networks is concerned, no guesses to which network figured the most in 2012 - it was Facebook. Primarily, FB was numero uno because of its IPO. Facebook was followed by either Twitter, Linkedin and even MySpace, depending on which list you are reading. The surprise here was MySpace, a social media site that is not really "hot" these days as compared to its hey days.
 
As we come to the last days of 2012, there will be many more such lists released. Lists containing the top tweets, the top Memes, and so on. Depending on how interesting these turn out, I shall report on a few next week.
 
Previous columns by Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla is a journalist with near three decades of experience and has worked in well-known Indian and international print and television media organizations such as  The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, The Indian Express, United News of India (UNI), The Gulf Today and India TV.
 
He has founded a Knowledge Services firm called New Age Content Services LLP, that leverages on the inherent strengths of the digital world. He also edits the website, www.whatsnewonthenet.com.
 
You can write to him at newagecontent@gmail.com
 
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Talwalkars, David Lloyd Leisure Limited in JV for leisure clubs in India

Mr. Prashant Talwalkar, MD & CEO of Talwalkars Better Value Fitness Ltd, and Mr Scott Lloyd, CEO, David Lloyd Leisure Limited (UK), at a press conference in Mumbai on December 13, 2012.
Mr. Prashant Talwalkar, MD & CEO of Talwalkars Better Value Fitness Ltd, and Mr Scott Lloyd, CEO, David Lloyd Leisure Limited (UK), at a press conference in Mumbai on December 13, 2012.

Talwalkars, a leading chain of health clubs in India, has announced that it has entered into a joint venture with David Lloyd Leisure Limited (DLL) of the United Kingdom to leverage the opportunity to expand leisure and sports clubs in India.

A press release from Talwalkars said DLL, which started operations in 1982, is Europe’s leading premium sports, health and leisure group.  
 
"DLL has a unique sporting heritage and is renowned for its unrivalled health and fitness expertise, state of the art facilities and superior levels of service. The Group currently operates 81 premium David Lloyd Leisure sports, health and leisure clubs in the UK, as well as a further 10 clubs across Europe in Belgium, Holland, Spain and Ireland.  In 2011 the Group had a turnover of  $510 million (2840 crore) and an EBITDAR of $195 million (1086 crores). It has over 440,000 members and employs 6,000 people," it said.
 
The joint venture, which will be known as Talwalkars David Lloyd Leisure Consulting, aims to provide consulting for leisure and sports clubs in high-end residential developments, gated community townships and corporate campuses.  
 
The joint venture’s key areas of focus will be: consulting, execution, management and operations of leisure and sports clubs.  
 
"David Lloyd Leisure has 30 years’ worth of unparalleled expertise and strategic knowledge on costs, implementation and execution of such clubs.  The very same insights and know-how will now be available in the Indian market to ensure the successful launch of such projects," it said.
 
Mr. Prashant Talwalkar, Managing Director & CEO of Talwalkars Better Value Fitness Ltd. said: “We are excited to partner with David Lloyd Leisure Limited (UK) in India. With their expertise in setting up premium leisure and sports clubs in the UK and mainland Europe, we are confident that this knowledge will be the key to create the very best leisure and sports clubs in India.”
 
Mr. Scott Lloyd, CEO, David Lloyd Leisure Limited, (UK), said: “I am delighted to announce DLL’s joint venture with Talwalkars which provides an exciting opportunity for DLL to leverage its proven track record and expertise in a new and dynamic marketplace with the market leader in India.  Together, we will make a powerful combination to provide  state of the art health and fitness club formats of scale in India.    We see significant opportunity in this growing and developing marketplace where sport and leisure is becoming more important to an increasingly affluent population.” 
 
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Arvind to bring surfwear brand Billabong to India

Arvind Lifestyle Brands, a subsidiary of Arvind Ltd, one of the largest players in the apparel brands and retail space, today announced it had signed an exclusive distribution agreement with the iconic Australian surf lifestyle brand Billabong in India. 

Arvind will market Billabong’s products through open stand-alone stores, as well as shop in shops in department stores and multi-brand stores, a press release from the company said.
 
In turn, Billabong will leverage Arvind’s expertise in building international brands in India to enhance its iconic status and presence in this important emerging market. All of which will help Arvind further augment its category leadership in the retail space through its multi-brand, multi-price and multi-channel strategy, the release said.
 
“We are delighted to sign the distribution agreement with Billabong, one of the world’s largest surfwear brands with a turnover of $1.5 billion. Billabong is strongly focused on youth and is ideal for the Indian market which has the largest youth demographic in the world," Mr J Suresh, Managing Director & CEO of Arvind Brands and Retail said.
 
Mr Phil Nicole, General Manager, Asia, Billabong said “Arvind has a network of 730 stores and 650 shop in shop counters and is one of the largest branded apparel companies in India. The group has a heritage of 80-plus years and is also the largest denim manufacturing company in the world. Arvind has licensing relationships with a number of international partners and has grown many international brands into market leaders in India. We are therefore convinced that we have found in Arvind a great partner for Billabong as we seek to further grow our Asian operations”
 
The release said the distribution arrangement with Billabong will significantly enhance Arvind’s already strong position in the high potential youth segment. 
 
"Billabong is a celebrated and iconic global youth board sport and lifestyle brand, that will allow Arvind to cater to both men’s and women in one of the fastest growing and exciting youth markets in the world.
 
"Billabong promises to deliver to its Indian consumers a truly unique and compelling brand and retail offering, which the brand has successfully demonstrated and delivered worldwide," it added.
 
Billabong was founded on Australia’s Gold Coast in 1973 as a designer of functional and high quality apparel for the sport of surfing. 
 
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L&T Construction wins orders worth Rs 1002 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction division had secured a slew of new orders valued at more than Rs 1002 crore across various business segments in November and till date in this month.

A press release from the company said its Power Transmission & Distribution Business bagged orders worth Rs 742 crore in domestic and international markets.
 
These includes a major order secured in Qatar for setting up of a 220 kV, 515 MVA cable system and for the construction of a 220/66/11 kV substation. 
 
"L&T has established itself among the major players in the power transmission and distribution sector in the Gulf," the release said.
 
On the domestic front, the company won an order from the Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation for a 400 /230-110 kV AIS substation at Kayathar, Thirunelveli and a 230 / 110 kV GIS Substation at Guindy, Chennai. 
 
Another turnkey order received from the West Bengal State Electricity Transmission Company Limited involves construction of seven transmission lines of 220 kV and 132 KV at various locations in West Bengal.
 
In addition, L&T Construction has secured orders worth Rs 260 crore from ongoing projects across various business units, the release added.
 
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What’s Chile got to do with start-ups?

 

If readers may so recall, in one of my previous columns I had talked of a survey that had identified some of the best startup ecosystems in the world. Leading the pack, naturally, was the US, followed by Israel, Brazil and so on. Bangalore, India was 19th in this Top-20 list.

So why am I talking of it again? The reason is, Chile. Do not be too surprised if this South American nation gets into this exclusive, Top-20 list soon. Why? Because of the Chilean Government’s initiative in encouraging startups.
 
Launched in 2010, the Startup Chile Accelerator programme has been going from strength to strength, ever since. For those of you who cannot identify Chile on the global map, it’s
that strip of land between Peru and Bolivia, and till some years ago, its claim to fame, or infamy, was its military government led by General Augusto Pinochet, who ruled between the 70s to the late 80s. Today, it is one of the most stable countries of South America.
 
The best part about the programme is that the funding and other facilities extended under it is not limited to only startups from the Republic of Chile. That’s why I am talking about this programme in my column today. What is little known is that entry into this Accelerator programme is open to startups from any part of the world. If you are a startup in India, then you should sit up and take note, because between 2010-12, many Indian startups, too, have been accepted under this programme. India is the 3rd favourite on the list.
 
The program just announced the names of 105 startups from 31 countries that have been selected to be part of the programme’s sixth edition in 2013. Starting early next year, they will make their way to Santiago, the capital of Chile, to participate in the programme. Most of the companies come from the U.S. (24 percent), followed by host country Chile (19 percent) Argentina (9 percent) and India (7 percent).
 
The programme will also host startups from countries like Morocco, Ukraine, Pakistan and the Netherlands. 
 
And before I forget, you will need to shift your team to Chile for a specific period in case you are selected.
 
When one looks at the profile of the startups that have been accepted this time, a majority (24 percent) are from the e-commerce category. Obviously, Indians are getting this one right, what with the sudden plethora of shopping sites like Flipkart and Jabong. This is followed by Mobile & Wireless (10 percent), Media (10 percent), IT & Enterprise Software (10 percent) and Social Media & Social Networks (10 percent). The rest is made up of startups from Education,  Energy & Clean Tech, Finance, Natural Resources, Social Enterprise and Tourism.
 
Coincidentally, my website, www.whatsnewonthenet.com had barely a few days before the
announcement of the 2012 winners, written about a start-up from Nepal called Picovico, which had been accepted under this programme in the fifth edition, and had got $40,000 as start-up fund. Picovico is an interesting startup – it converts static images into video. So, you can take a series of pictures from your family album or college yearbook, put them together using the Picovico platform, and out comes a video. 
 
Actually it is a like one of the flipbooks we used to see some years ago. A mini-book with a series of action photos, you flip the pages to see the action completed in one go. Something like that. Of course, you can also embellish your video with music, a theme, some text, and then share in on the social networks. Cute. Earlier, Picovico had been accepted by The Morpheus Ventures in India under its start-up accelerator programme.
 
Anyway, coming back to the Chile Startup Programme, if you are a startup and want to learn more about it, go to this URL – www.startupchile.org
 
Honeymoon between Twitter and Instagram sours
 
Users of micro-blog Twitter and photo sharing application Instagram may have realised something’s amiss. They are not wrong. Instagram photos appearing in your Twitter feeds may be looking a little “off” to you, maybe cropped. That’s because both companies have got into a kinda tiff.
 
In a status update, Twitter has said Instagram photos may appear cropped because the latter had disabled its Twitter cards integration. As a result, photos were being displayed as they were earlier in the “pre-cards” era.
 
Instagram, on its part, does acknowledge doing this. Explaining its rationale, the company said it now had a web presence of its own and wanted more and more of its users to enjoy that experience. It said a few months ago, it did support Twitter cards because Instagram had a minimal web presence then. But since then, several improvements had been made to the website, one of which allows users to directly engage with Instagram content through Likes, Comments and Hashtags. It has further said it would continue to evaluate how to improve the experience with Twitter and Instagram photos. 
 
Signing off, Instagram has added that its users will continue to be able to share images to Twitter as they originally did before the Twitter Cards implementation.
 
This is clearly a case of the smaller partner in an alliance growing wings and wanting to fly. The synergy seems fading away. For a long time now, Twitter and Instagram were closely linked, and Twitter Chairman Jack Dorsey was one of the earliest investors in Instagram. The latter also largely grew on the back of Twitter, but now that it’s achieved some amount of traction around the world, wants to strike out on its own.
 
Well, all that I can say is children do grow up and you need to let them go, guys. The same principle should be applied to this relationship. On that note, I bid adieu.
 
Previous columns by Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla is a journalist with near three decades of experience and has worked in well-known Indian and international print and television media organizations such as  The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, The Indian Express, United News of India (UNI), The Gulf Today and India TV.
 
He has founded a Knowledge Services firm called New Age Content Services LLP, that leverages on the inherent strengths of the digital world. He also edits the website, www.whatsnewonthenet.com.
 
You can write to him at newagecontent@gmail.com
 
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NCP leader Ajit Pawar returns to Maharashtra Cabinet as Deputy Chief Minister

 
Ajit Pawar returns as Maharashtra Deputy CM

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar returned to the Maharashtra Cabinet as Deputy Chief Minister today, a week after he got a clean chit in a white paper issued by the state government about an alleged irrigation scam.

Mr Pawar, 53, the nephew of Union Agriculture Minister and NCP President Sharad Pawar, had resigned from the Cabinet on September 25 in the wake of allegations against him in the alleged scam.
 
He was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Maharashtra Governor K Shankaranarayanan at Raj Bhavan here in the presence of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and other dignitaries.
 
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena had boycotted the swearing-in ceremony.
 
Mr Pawar had been accused of arbitrarily awarding irrigation contracts worth more than Rs 20,000 crore when he was the Irrigation Minister during the period 1999-2009, before he was elevated as Deputy Chief Minister and given the portfolios of finance and energy.
 
His resignation had sparked off a crisis in the Congress-NCP coalition government, with all the other 19 ministers from the NCP also offering to quit along with him.
 
The white paper presented by the irrigation department, giving the status of irrigation projects in the state, said the irrigation potential in Maharashtra had gone up by 28 per cent during the 10-year period. Since then, there was a clamour for his return to the Cabinet.
 
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L&T IDPL achieves financial closure for its Maharashtra road projects

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Engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its subsiduary L&T Infrastructure Development Projects (L&T IDPL) had achieved financial closure  for two of its road projects in Maharashtra on November 30.

The projects will be funded by an ICICI Bank-led consortium and the turnkey Engineering 
Procurement Construction (EPC) contracts for the projects have been awarded to L&T, a press release from the company said.
 
The projects involve development (four laning) of contiguous stretches on National Highway (NH)-6 - Amravati to Jalgaon and Jalgaon to the Gujarat / Maharashtra border. 
 
The length of these stretches on NH-6 are approximately 275 km and 209 km, respectively, with the concession period for the projects being 19 years and 20 years, respectively, including the construction period of 2.5 years. 
 
These are among the longest road projects in the country, bid out on Design, Build, Finance, Operate, Transfer (DBFOT) basis.
 
According to the release, the National Highway Authority of India's estimate of the project costs are Rs 2537.81 crores for the Amravati - Jalgaon  stretch and Rs 1968.37 crores for the Jalgaon to Gujarat / Maharashtra border stretch. Both are part of the East-West connector, linking hubs of economic activity in Gujarat and Maharashtra to the mineral-rich states of Orissa and Chattisgarh.
 
The release said L&T IDPL has one of the largest project portfolios in the roads sector in India comprising approximately 9200 lane km with a project cost of Rs.22,000 crores. 
 
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Standard Chartered invests Rs. 200 crore in Ocean Sparkle Limited

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Standard Chartered Private Equity (SCPE) today said it had invested Rs. 200 crore for a minority stake via primary and secondary investments in Ocean Sparkle Limited (OSL), the leading Indian comprehensive port operations and management services company. 
 
Part of the funding from SCPE will help finance OSL’s capital expenditure plans, a press release from SCPE said.
 
Founded in 1995 by marine technocrats, OSL currently serves most of the key ports across India’s coastline and has the largest tug fleet in the country. It also has pre-qualifications to operate in over five countries and presently has operations in Oman and Sri Lanka. 
 
OSL has subsidiaries / joint ventures with PSA Marine (Pte) Limited, a leading international port O&M operator and also with the Khimji Group of Oman.
 
According to the release, OSL has built up an integrated and diversified service offering including harbour towage, pilotage, mooring, ship-to-ship operations, FPSO offshore support services, salvage assistance, control tower operation and dredging. 
 
OSL has also developed a strong track record across a premier pan India customer base consisting of government ports as well as private sectors ports and terminals. 
 
Its client base includes 10 of the 13 major ports in India including Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust,  Ennore, Paradip, Chennai, Mumbai, and Kandla; private sector ports including Krishnapatnam, Pipavav, Karaikal, Kakinanda, Dahej and private sector captive terminals such as those of Reliance, JSW and Petronet LNG.
 
OSL is also building capabilities to capitalize on new emerging opportunities such as energy and offshore terminals. OSL's comprehensive service offering presents a competitive advantage as both the public and private sector ports focus on infrastructure development and expansion. These ports are also increasingly outsourcing critical services to specialist service providers such as OSL.
 
As part of the SCPE investment, Mr Rahul Raisurana, Managing Director, Standard Chartered Private Equity is joining OSL’s Board of Directors.
 
MAPE Advisory Group acted as the transaction advisor for the fund raise, the release said.
 
P. Jairaj Kumar, Chairman & Managing Director, Ocean Sparkle Limited said, “Ocean Sparkle has a long standing and credible debt relationship with Standard Chartered Bank. We feel privileged to partner with Standard Chartered Private Equity in our endeavour to accelerate our growth in various marine services across ports in India. We are also confident that this equity investment would aid our access to various geographies given the bank’s global presence.”
 
Mr Raisurana said, "We are delighted to invest in Ocean Sparkle Limited. The country’s growing economy and growth in maritime traffic will provide a strong impetus for the growth of port infrastructure over the next decade. This will provide strong prospects for O&M activities at ports. As a clear leader in the sector and having one of the largest tug fleets in Asia as well as strong technical and management capabilities, OSL is well positioned to capitalize on the outsourcing trend as well as strong tug replacement demand at ports. We have found Ocean Sparkle to be the right partner because of its pan India diversified presence, strong domain knowledge, execution skills and leadership bandwidth, a key differentiator for the Company.”
 
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US Ex-Im Bank to extend $ 2.1 billion credit to RIL

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The Board of the Export Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the United States has voted to extend the single largest financing transaction of $ 2.1 billion to Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). 

A press release from RIL said here today that this includes a $ 1.06 billion direct loan and guarantee of a $ 1.06 billion JPMorgan Chase loan to the company.  
 
The loan will be primarily used to finance goods and services procured from exporters and suppliers in the United States as part of Reliance's expansion projects at Jamnagar, Gujarat.  
 
“We are once again partnering with major U.S. suppliers for cutting edge technology, critical project management services and equipment from a wide section of American exporters for rolling out our next phase of growth,” said Mr. Alok Agarwal, Reliance’s Chief Financial Officer. 
 
“We value our long standing relationship with Ex-Im Bank and this landmark transaction further strengthens the partnership. This landmark transaction reaffirms the catalyst role played by Ex-Im Bank in facilitating trade between U.S. and India. We also sincerely appreciate the role played by J P Morgan Chase in this important transaction for us.” 
 
"The transaction is the single largest Ex-Im Bank has ever authorized for Reliance, and it represents Reliance’s first attempt at funding through the capital markets with an Ex-Im Bank guaranteed bond issuance," a separate press release issued by Ex-Im Bank said.
 
It said the credit would support approximately 12,300 U.S. jobs, according to bank estimates derived from Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology. Moreover, six percent of the financing is expected to support American small businesses.  
 
“This transaction is a tremendous opportunity for U.S. exporters and U.S. jobs, as revealed by the impressive exporter and job counts,” said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. “Ex-Im Bank’s financing offsets foreign export-credit-agency competition and provides American exporters with a level playing field. The result is the continued success of American technology and expertise.”  
 
“We are very pleased to support Reliance in this important expansion project,” added Lillian Labbat, managing director, J.P. Morgan. “The unique conversion options, utilizing bond and direct loan financing, demonstrate Ex-Im’s focus on delivering competitive solutions while fostering U.S. exports and job growth.” 
 
Among the more than 65 exporters and suppliers involved in the transaction are Fluor Corporation, Lummus Technology, Univation Technologies LLC, Bechtel, and ConocoPhillips. 
 
The release noted that RIL's Jamnagar complex oversees the largest single-location refinery operation in the world. Reliance intends to increase the complex’s petrochemical output by constructing a petcoke gasification unit that will top the world’s rosters in size and significantly enhance the efficiency of the company’s refinery business. Reliance also plans to erect a refinery off- gas cracker with matching downstream units that will better integrate polymer and polyester production.  
 
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Venus gets Phase III nod for its cancer detection NCE

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Pharmaceuticals major Venus Remedies Limited today said it had received approval from the Drugs Controller General, India (DCGI) to conduct Phase-III Clinical Trials of its cancer detection NCE (New Chemical Entity). 

"After thorough screening by IND committee for the investigational New Chemical Entity VRP1620, DCGI has found Clinical Phase-I and Phase II data satisfactory and thus granted permission to conduct Phase-III Clinical Trials on the molecule," a press release from the company said.
 
It said the molecule is for early cancer detection and this leap towards successful Phase III will make Venus pioneers among the companies working and providing innovative solution for cancer detection.
 
Dr (Mrs) Manu Chaudhary, Director Research, Venus Medicine Research Centre (VMRC) said, “This NCE is based on selective tumor targeting because tumor-infiltrating blood vessels deviate morphologically and biochemically from normal vessels.  VRP1620 specifically increases tumor blood flow and this property has been utilized to promote delivery of cancer detection contrast media to the site of tumors via blood stream.''
 
She said the NCE was a targeted delivery of diagnostic agent which enhances image quality to several hundred times, thus making it clearly differentiated.
 
She said the NCE could also differentiate between benign and malignant tumor because of its property to enhance image quality and very small sized tumors could also be traced.
 
"As of now, there is no such technology for early detection of small sized solid tumor available in the market across the globe and secondly, VRP1620 will help us in staging of tumors. Our technology omits false negatives," she said.
 
The release said the company had successfully completed Phase I study at Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMER), Chandigarh conducted to find maximum tolerable dose levels in breast cancer patients in third quarter of 2010. 
 
Later, in April 2011,  after DCGI approval, Phase II study of this molecule was conducted  at multiple institutions throughout India including PGIMER, Chandigarh and Central India Cancer Research Institute, Nagpur, Maharashtra to establish the pharmacokinetic profile  and preliminary efficacy of the drug.
 
“Late stage diagnosis of breast cancer and solid tumors in general are a major cause of decreasing survival indices in our country. A diagnostic product like VRP-1620 will surely go a long way in putting breast cancer patient ahead in time to receive better therapeutic benefits. I shall be looking forward to this novel drug performing in clinical practice” , said Dr. Ajay Mehta, Director, Central India Cancer Research Institute.
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Venus is planning to launch this NCE by last quarter of 2013 in India for the first time globally. “We are excited about this NCE molecule, as this is our first-ever success in Phase I and II  and we look forward to meeting the otherwise unmet market need,” said  Mr Pawan Chaudhary, Chairman and Managing Director, Venus Remedies Limited.
 
The global cancer market was worth $56.7billion in 2007, growing at 16.8 per cent over 2006, and is forecast to reach a value of $76.9 billion by 2013 representing a CAGR of 5.1 per cent (2007-13). Oncology is one of the leading therapeutic categories in the global pharmaceutical market with a total global annual market for next generation cancer diagnostics  of $776 million in 2010, and is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47%, to reach a forecast market size of $5.3 billion in 2015.
 
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L&T secures Rs 732 crore order from Nuclear Power Corporation

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro today said it had secured an order valued at over Rs 732 crores from Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for the Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant (RAPP). 

A press release from the company said L&T Power would supply, install and commission the Balance of Turbine Island package for two new 700 MW capacity units, RAPP 7 and 8, located at Rawatbhata near Kota. 
 
The package also includes civil work for the turbine halls, electrical bays and transformer 
yard, it said.
 
"The contract underlines L&T’s growing contribution in the Indian nuclear energy sector and strengthens its long-standing relationship with NPCIL," the release added.
 
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