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India denies change in policy towards Afghanistan

India today said there was no change in its policy towards Afghanistan and claimed that External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had been misquoted in his interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Vishnu Prakash, said Mr Krishna did not say, in the interview, that there should be a political settlement with the Taliban.

"Our policy is one of strengthening the Government of Afghanistan in achieving its social and developmental objectives by rebuilding of infrastructure, providing employment, health, education, etc.

"It is for the Government of Afghanistan to take the initiatives necessary so that all those who abjure violence and extremism and accept Afghanistan’s Constitution and democratic set-up, join the political process. It is not our position that a political settlement be attempted with those who do not share these aims," Mr Prakash added.

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9 H1N1 deaths in India, 283 new cases

Nine more influenza A (H1N1) deaths were reported from India today, taking the toll due to the pandemic in the country so far to 277, an official statement said.

Four of the deaths occured in Maharashtra (1 each in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Nashik), three in Karnataka (2 in Bangalore and 1 in Udupi) and two in Hyderabad, Andhra Padesh.

Besides, three deaths in Andhra Pradesh and one in Uttarakhand reported earlier have now been confirmed as cases of swine flu after the receipt of the reports of the laboratory tests conducted on the patients.

With these, Maharashtra now accounts for 112 of the deaths reported so far, while 85 have lost their lives in Karnataka, 26 in Gujarat, 28 in Andhra Pradesh, 9 in Delhi, 4 in Kerala, 3 each in Tamil Nadu and Goa, 2 in Haryana and Uttarakhand and 1 each in Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, as many as 283 fresh cases of the flu were reported from across the country, including 103 in Delhi, 43 in Andhra Pradesh, 35 in Maharashtra, 34 in Tamil Nadu, 25 in Haryana, 22 in Karnataka, 8 in Uttar Pradesh, 6 in Kerala, 3 in Goa, 2 in Gujarat and 1 each in Chandigarh and Chhattisgarh.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported so far in India has risen to 8979, the statement added.

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Centre asks States to issue smart card-based driving licenses

The Centre today asked all State Governments to implement the decision to issue smart card-based driving licenses by December 31 this year to ensure uniformity and inter-operability throughout the country.

The deadline was set at a meeting of the Principal Secretaries/Secretaries of Transport of all the States and Union Territories held here under the chairmanship of Mr Brahm Dutt, Secretary, Road Transport and Highways.

Various other issues related to the new National Permit regime, High Security Registration Plate (HRSP) scheme, IT projects like creation of State Registers/National Register of Driving Licenses and Registration Certificates and provision of adequate transport facilities for women were discussed at the meeting.

An official press release said there was unanimity among the States on evolving a system for seamless movement of goods vehicles across the country and to make the National Permit truly national in character.

It was decided that the States would consider the new composite fee regime of Rs.15,000 per annum per truck for authorisation of operations throughout the country. The States would take necessary measures to shift to an e-payment system of collection of composite fee.

At present, the National Permit is issued for operation in a minimum of 3 contiguous states besides the home state chosen by the applicant for such a permit.

It was also decided that the committee earlier constituted by the Ministry on the modalities of implementation of the HSRP scheme would also come out with model terms and conditions of the tender to be followed by States/UTs.

The recommendations of the Committee would be only suggestive in nature. The deliberations of the Committee would be an exercise exclusive of the independent decisions to be taken by individual States and UTs. It was left to the States to take a judicious decision to implement the directions of the Supreme Court on HRSP and in case they decide to keep the implementation on hold, the responsibility would squarely lie with them, it was stressed.

The State Governments were also asked to take various measures such as increase in frequency of special buses for women, special peak hour services, re-designing of routes keeping in view the safety of women and the demand for such services to enhance passenger transport facility for working women.

The States and UTs were asked to seek involvement of the employers to provide pick and drop facility for women, the release added.

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7 envoys present credentials to President

Seven new envoys, including Mr Peter Varghese, the new High Commissioner of Australia, presented their credentials to President Pratiba Patil at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan here today.

The others who presented their credentials were Mr Javier Manuel Paulinich Velarde, the Ambassador of Peru, Ms. Nafsika Chr Krousti, the High Commissioner of Cyprus, Ms. Terhi Hakala, the Ambassador of Finland, Mr. Janez Premoze, the Ambassador of Slovenia, Mr. Adli Shaban Hassan Sadeq, the Ambassador of Palestine and Mr. Sami Mohammad S M al-Sulaiman, the Ambassador of Kuwait.

In her interaction with them, Ms Patil welcomed the new envoys to India and conveyed to them India's desire to have good relations and to intensify bilateral ties with their countries.

The President said the international community should work unitedly and collectively to combat terrorism. She stated that terrorism hampered peace and harmony in societies and adversely affected the process of creating prosperity.

Referring to the global financial crises, the President emphasized the need for reform in international financial institutions.

The ceremony was attended by the senior members of the missions and senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and Rashtrapati Bhavan, an official press release added.

Mr Varghese, the new Australian High Commissioner, is an Indian-Australian and was the Director General of Australia's Office of National Assessments (ONA) until recently. He will be concurrently accredited to Bhutan.

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MEA: No India-China military exercises planned in 2009

India today clarified that no joint military exercise had been planned with China for this year.

Responding to media reports which said that the two countries had called off their joint military exercise this year, the spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Vishnu Prakash, said the two countries had conducted joint exercises in 2007 and 2008.

"It was mutually decided during the last exercise that the next joint military exercise would be held in 2010," he said.

"Therefore, no joint military exercise was planned in 2009," Mr Prakash added.

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Ansari: Action on climate change must enlarge development possibilities

Vice President M. Hamid Ansari releasing a book titled 'Engaging with a Resurgent Africa' at the Global Summit on Sustainable Development & Climate Change organised by the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi on September 24, 2009. Former Foreign Secretary M. K. Rasgotra is also seen.
Vice President M. Hamid Ansari releasing a book titled 'Engaging with a Resurgent Africa' at the Global Summit on Sustainable Development & Climate Change organised by the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi on September 24, 2009. Former Foreign Secretary M. K. Rasgotra is also seen.

Vice-President M Hamid Ansari today said any action on climate change must enlarge, not constrict, the possibilities for development and empowerment of the world's poor.

"Sustainable development is an issue of the peoples of the world. The issue of development should continue to remain the focus of the global discourse," Mr Ansari said at the "Global Summit on Sustainable Development and Climate Change" organised here this morning by the Observer Research Foundation.

"The human aspiration for leading a life of dignity must not be the outcome of the dice of geography," he said.

The Vice-President noted that the the timing of the conference, being held in the run-up to the 15th Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, ensured that its deliberations would inform the national and global debate on climate change.

In his view, climate change remained one of the most complex problems facing humankind today, which is expected to impact on the distribution and quality of natural resources, and consequently the developmental path of nations and the quality of lives of peoples across the globe.

"To developing countries like India, Climate Change imposes new challenges that may probably require negotiating new international and national political and economic arrangements, fashioning new technological interventions, and negotiating financial and technological transfers for mitigation and adaption to climate change," he said.

Mr Ansari said an incontrovertible premise in the debate was the right of every human being to a life dignity, which needed to be assessed in terms of some basic indicators.

He said that, in terms of basic energy consumption for two essential requirements of household electricity and transport, the per capita energy consumption for India was around 18 tonnes of oil-equivalent per person in the year 2005. The corresponding figure for Pakistan was 41, for China 52, for Mexico 345, for Brazil 205 and the United States 1881, he said.

India, despite having 17% of the world population and a rapidly growing economy, has only 4% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions as compared to the United States and China that account for over 16% each of global Greenhouse Gas emissions, he said.

In per capita terms, India’s Greenhouse Gas emission of 1.1 ton/annum is miniscule when compared to over 20 tonnes for the US and in excess of 10 tons for most OECD countries, he said.

Mr Ansari said India’s primary energy consumption was merely 3.7% per year despite a GDP growth rate, until recently, of around 9%. This contrasts with the pattern seen in developed countries and even a few major developing countries where higher GDP growth has followed the traditional pattern of increased use of energy.

He pointed out that more than 40 per cent of India's population was without access to electricity.

The Vice-President said sustainable development was premised on sustainable production and sustainable consumption patterns across all nations.

"A complex reality of our world is insufficient and inefficient production, as also profligate and inadequate consumption of varying degrees. The Climate Change negotiations have thus resulted in various countries adopting different negotiating positions. These have ranged between absolute emissions, per capita emissions, current emissions and historical emissions. Equity, nevertheless, remains the operative principle and every citizen of the globe has an equal entitlement to the planet’s atmospheric space, a common resource of humanity," he said.

Mr Ansari said that, at this early stage of development, India had the opportunity to exercise the right choices on climate change and sustainable development issues.

He said the National Action Plan on Climate Change portrayed this vision as creating "a prosperous, but not wasteful society, an economy that is self-sustaining in terms of its ability to unleash the creative energies of our people and is mindful of our responsibilities to both present and future generations".

He said the plan stated that the national objective was the establishment of "an effective, cooperative and equitable global approach based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, enshrined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change".

The Vice-President said the question of equity and burden-sharing was central to the climate change debate. He said the lack of a global agreement on such an equitable formula was likely to cause the climate change negotiations to spill over to other multilateral, regional and bilateral negotiating platforms. This would further accentuate existing divisions such as North-South, East-West, Developed-Developing countries, and so on, he said.

Secondly, he said, the pursuit of equity at the international level needed to be reflected at the national level.

He said that there was significant variation in Greenhouse Gas emissions of various states within the country.

"As part of the national debate on climate change, we should discuss whether urban areas and heavily industrialised states that significantly contribute to Greenhouse Gas emissions should have different financial and other responsibilities on climate change as compared to rural areas and economically less developed states," he said.

Mr Ansari also said that the climate change debate so far had been primarily government-focused with some participation of the civil society.

"This needs to be broadened to include the legislature, people’s groups and grass root movements so that adaptation and mitigation options are discussed by those who are directly affected by climate change. The debate must be as inclusive as possible to enhance its legitimacy and credibility," he added.

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DGCA in compliance with FAA’s safety audit recommendations

India has been found to be fully compliant with international safety standards by an audit done by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States, an official press release said today.

Before permitting a foreign airline to operate in the US, the FAA, backed by US legislation, conducts an audit of the concerned country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)/ Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to ensure its capability for providing safety certification and continuing oversight on its international carriers.

The audit is conducted under an "International Aviation Safety Assessment Programme" (IASA) and focuses on the country's ability to adhere to standards and recommended practices of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for aircraft operations and maintenance.

Under the IASA programme, the FAA in the year 1997 had conducted an audit of India's DGCA and had awarded Category 1 status to India.

This year, in March 2009, the FAA, based on the report of an audit conducted by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in October 2006, conducted a reassessment of DGCA.

While the FAA’s IASA team had found India to be compliant in areas of aviation legislation, operating regulations, civil aviation structure and safety oversight functions, and licensing and certification obligations, it raised concerns in the areas of adequate technical guidance for DGCA inspectors, hiring and retaining technical personnel in DGCA, establishment of an on-going surveillance programme of air operators and the resolution of identified safety issues.

According to an official press release, the DGCA was required to rectify the concerns in the identified areas in a short time frame of about five months. Repercussions of non-action could have resulted in India being downgraded to Category 2 status from the Category 1, which has been held by India since 1997. Under Category 2, no expansion/ changes to the services of Indian air carriers would have been permitted by US and the existing operations would have been subjected to "heightened FAA surveillance".

It said such a downgrade would not only have had an economic impact on the nation but would also have been a setback to India’s image worldwide in ICAO, the European Union (EU), the US and in the international aviation community.

The FAA IASA team visited the DGCA again today to confirm and validate the action taken on the concerns since the audit in March 2009. The visit was also made to ascertain the information which was provided to the FAA by DGCA from time to time in the past few months on the progress made to make good the deficiencies.

During the discussions, the FAA team confirmed the action taken by DGCA to make good the identified concerns of the earlier March 2009 audit, the release said.

According to the release, the team confirmed DGCA meeting the international standards in the area of aviation law and regulations and confirmed that the powers of Director General were well laid down in the various parts of the Aircraft Act, 1934 and Aircraft Rules, 1937 and the regulations were available to all users.

In the area of CAA structure and safety oversight functions, the team acknowledged that lack of financial resources was not a constraint for DGCA and that there had been an eight-fold increase in the annual budget for DGCA this year.

In 2009-10, DGCA had 40 crores under Plan and Rs 22 crores under its non-plan budget. The FAA was informed by DGCA that a feasibility study for establishment of Civil Aviation Authority had been commissioned and would commence next month.

The FAA team was shown the technical guidance, which was prepared in areas of operations, airworthiness and enforcement for the use of safety inspectors of DGCA for day-to-day functioning, including the training provided to the inspectors on their use.

The FAA team also confirmed the availability of an increased number of flight operations inspectors on board with DGCA which now includes 14 full time Government Flight Operations Inspectors (FOI) and 18 FOIs on secondment from industry. There were only four FOIs in March 2009. It was emphasized to the team that current increased salary levels based on the 6th Pay Commission had increased the attractiveness of Government positions and retention had improved.

The release said the Government had approved and revised about 560 technical positions and 150 non-technical positions in addition to the existing 160 technical and 177 non-technical positions. An aggressive action plan for recruitment is under way, it said.

It said 72 technical officers were being hired in September–October on short-term contracts.

The release said a higher level of financial delegation had given to the DGCA by the Government. The DGCA has, in turn, delegated financial powers to regional offices.

It said DGCA now had 13 directorates as against nine earlier. Four new directorates have been added. A DGCA-wide internal and external training programme has been developed. Further, a big project of IT-led solutions in DGCA is in an advanced stage of implementation.

The FAA team found that DGCA India fulfilled all international standards regarding licensing and certification obligations.

The release said the DGCA-wide surveillance programme was shared with the team and it was emphasized that all airlines, including foreign airlines, were included in it.

The programme includes Indian registered as well as aircraft taken by Indian operators on wet lease. The current programme for 2009 includes 4,327 surveillance activities, of which 2,545 had been conducted till August.

The meeting also discussed the system for addressing deficiencies arising out of the surveillance. The FAA team was informed of the setting up of Surveillance and Enforcement Division (SMED) and the Board for Aviation Safety (BFAS) in headquarters for monthly monitoring of identified Level I deficiencies and progress of other deficiencies.

The release said 87 enforcement actions had been taken against personnel and operators. In addition to the surveillance programme, DGCA has put in place a System of Quality Check of foreign flying training facilities used by Indian students for obtaining pilot licenses. DGCA officers had recently conducted an inspection of a flying institute in the Philippines in consultation with the civil aviation authority of the country.

The recently-introduced system of financial surveillance of airlines was also discussed, based on the current economic slowdown and consequent pressures on the airlines.

The release said DGCA shared with the team the revised Schedule VI of the Aircraft Rules 1937on Penalties, in which the substantial increase in financial penalty for non-adherence to regulations has been addressed.

The DGCA Enforcement Policy and Procedures Manual, issued on May 20 this year and effective from June 15, was provided to the team. The manual establishes and publicizes internal deadlines for taking action, appeal actions, and monitoring compliance with enforcement decisions throughout the regions, and implements an effective internal staff process to ensure timely action. The DGCA Officers at headquarters and in the regions have been trained on the manual. Stakeholders are aware that they are subject to enforcement, and the programme constitutes an effective deterrent.

According to the release, the FAA team was impressed with the amount of work accomplished by DGCA. It also acknowledged the commitment and support of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Goverment India.

The release said India was found fully compliant with FAA observations and ICAO Annexes 1, 6 and 8. The DGCA said India fully met the eligibility criteria to retain current Category I status under FAA IASA.

"Based on the discussions held and the information shared, FAA at the close of the discussion informed DGCA of being in compliance with international standards for aviation safety and reported India to continue to be maintained in Category I. This determination will be made public under FAA public disclosure policy," the release added.

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Two more H1N1 deaths in India, 219 new cases

Two more influenza A (H1N1) deaths were reported from India today, taking the toll due to the pandemic in the country so far to 264, an official statement said.

One of the deaths occurred in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra and the other in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

With these, Maharashtra now accounts for 108 of the deaths reported so far, while 82 have lost their lives in Karnataka, 26 in Gujarat, 23 in Andhra Pradesh, 9 in Delhi, 4 in Kerala, 3 each in Tamil Nadu and Goa, 2 in Haryana and 1 each in Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, as many as 219 fresh cases of the flu were reported from across the country, including 80 in Delhi, 45 in Maharashtra, 26 in Haryana, 17 each in Tamil and Karnataka, 11 in Andhra Pradesh, 10 in Uttarakhand, 8 in Kerala, 2 each in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir and 1 in Gujarat.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported so far in India has crossed the 8000-mark and touched 8696, the statement added.

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UNESCO Board okays Category-I Institute for India

India will become the first country in Asia to have a UNESCO Category – I Institute, which will be named as the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development.

The Executive Board of UNESCO has approved India’s proposal to set up the institute, an official press release said here today.

It said the approval was accorded by acclamation in the Joint Administrative and Finance Commission of the Executive Board at its 182nd Session which was held on September 18.

This would be the first Category-I Institute of UNESCO to be established in the Asia Pacific region. At present, there are eleven UNESCO Category-I institutes and except three of them, all are located in developed countries and none in Asia.

The proposal to set up the institute was submitted to UNESCO by India earlier this year. An official press release said it was in keeping with UNESCO’s aims and objectives enshrined in its Constitution and its mandate of building the defences of peace in the minds of men.

It said the proposal, in the name of Mahatma Gandhi, whose birth anniversary is commemorated by the UN General Assembly as the International Day of Non-Violence, would help to spread UNESCO’s message internationally.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal had met UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura on July 9 this year in Paris and impressed upon him India's keenness for establishing the institute. He said that the institute would symbolise the rich heritage and values of peace and diversity that India stood for.

Mr Matsuura had sent two mission teams from UNESCO to New Delhi to appraise the proposal and to discuss various aspects of the proposed institute.

India's proposal was supported by a number of countries cutting across regional groups and adopted by acclamation. In fact, the Chairman of the Executive Board commended India and said the Institute, when established, "would belong to the whole world".

"We are proud of India for bringing this initiative to the Board. We call upon the Secretariat to fully support this initiative," the Chairman of the Board said.

Category – I institutes and centres are an integral part of UNESCO and its governing bodies are either elected by the General Conference or appointed in whole or part by the Director General, UNESCO and report to the General Conference.

They are governed by UNESCO’s rules and regulations and are an integral part of its Programme and Budget. These institutes are designed to serve as centres of excellence and expertise in the area of specialization to Members States and to contribute to UNESCO’s programmes, objectives and strategies. Having an UNESCO Category – I institute is considered to be an honour for any country.

The overall focus of the activities of the proposed institute will be on fostering a culture of peace through education, promoting sustainable economic and social development and respect for human rights. The decision is being viewed as a historic one and reinforces India’s key role in UNESCO and its leadership position in building the defences of peace in the minds of men, the release said.

The proposal will be formally approved by the General Conference of UNESCO in its 35th Session, which is going to be held from October 6–23 October at its headquarters in Paris.

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President, VP, PM congratulate ISRO on Oceansat-2 launch

President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President M Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today congratulated scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for successfully placing seven satellites, including India's Oceansat-2, in orbit today after the launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C14).

Ms Patil, in her message, said ISRO's capabilities had once again been highlighted through today's achievement.

She said she was confident that Oceansat-2 would provide valuable data on the climate as it will study the interaction between the oceans and the atmosphere.

Mr Ansari was amongst those present at Sriharikota to witness the launch. "I am very happy to have personally witnessed the launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C14, today from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. Our Space scientists have done the nation proud by this launch," he said.

"I congratulate our space scientists and all those associated with this successful launch," he added.

Dr Singh, who later left on a four-day visit to attend the G-20 Summit at Pittsburg in the United States, said he was delighted to learn of the successful launch of PSLV-C14 and the seven satellites.

"PSLV has once again demonstrated its versatility and reliability through this fifteenth successful launch in a row. The OCEANSAT-2 satellite will herald a new beginning in our understanding of the oceans. I congratulate the entire ISRO team responsible for this achievement, and wish ISRO continued success in future missions," he added.

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PM says India must engage in management of world economy

Ahead of his departure for the third G-20 Summit beginning tomorrow at Pittsburg in the United States, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said it was necessary for India to engage in the management of the world economy because it had a lot at stake and a lot to contribute.

"I will convey India’s interest in seeing the earliest possible return to trend growth and stabilisation of the banking and financial sectors in the advanced economies, because this directly affects our exports, capital inflows and investment," Dr Singh said in a statement before leaving on the four-day trip.

"We would like to see a continuous increase in the capital base of multilateral development banks to finance the massive infrastructure needs of emerging markets," he said.

The G-20 leaders are expected to take stock of the improving global economic situation at the two-day Summit and decide on some long-term measures and chart a roadmap for the future.

The Summit, which will be chaired by US President Barack Obama as the host, will be attended by leaders of the G-20 member-countries as well as top officials of the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and the Financial Stability Board.

Dr Singh will be accompanied by a high-level delegation that will include Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who is also the G-20 "Sherpa" from India, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and senior officials.

The Prime Minister said that the fact that the G-20 leaders were meeting for the third time in less than a year reflected the seriousness which the grouping attached not just to the recovery of the global economy and financial system but to a recovery that was coordinated, sustainable and enduring.

He said the previous two Summits in Washington on November 15 last year and in London on April 2 this year were convened at the height of the global economic crisis, and therefore focused on the urgent and the immediate.

He said the London Summit had resulted in ambitious liquidity stimulus measures and growth packages. Importantly, it pledged to mobilize US $ 1.1 trillion of resources for international financial institutions, largely to sustain growth in emerging markets. The steps taken by the G-20 to augment the resources of multilateral development banks had led to substantial stepping up of World Bank lending to India, he said.

"The global economy and financial markets have shown a distinct improvement since then, but we are still not out of the woods," he said.

The Prime Minister said that even though the country's economic growth rate had slowed to 6.7% in 2008-09, India approached the Pittsburgh Summit with a sense of confidence.

"Our growth is primarily driven by domestic demand, our savings rate is robust and the external sector has exhibited resilience. Capital flows, especially portfolio flows, have started picking up, and we remain an attractive investment destination," he said.

Dr Singh said the Pittsburgh Summit was expected to focus on medium and long-term issues such as a framework for sustainable and balanced growth, strengthening the international financial regulatory system, reforming the mandate mission and governance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and development banks, strengthening support for the most vulnerable, an open global economy and energy and climate change.

He said the expansion and strengthening of the erstwhile Financial Stability Forum, and now the Financial Stability Board, and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision was a step in the right direction to address the regulatory aspects.

"There is a need to carry the process of governance reform of international financial institutions further to give greater voice and representation to under-represented countries," he said.

"We would also like to see a strong message to emerge from Pittsburgh against protectionism in all its forms, whether trade in goods, services, investment or financial flows," he said.

"The G-20 process is a continuing one and it is in our interest to ensure that it succeeds both in its short term and long term objectives," the Prime Minister said.

He said that he looked forward to exchange views on these and other matters with several of the leaders who would be present, including the new Prime Minister of Japan, he added.

Briefing journalists last week about the visit, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had said that the preparatory process for the Summit had included meetings of the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors as well as meetings of the G-20 Sherpas earlier this month.

Dr Singh, who will reach Pittsburg tomorrow, will attend a reception and a dinner hosted by the US President in the evening.

On September 25, there will be a Summit Plenary, a Leaders' Lunch and a Concluding Plenary in the afternoon. Dr Singh will leave Pittsburg the same evening.

During his stay in Pittsburg, Dr Singh will also interact with the leaders of other G-20 countries for discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest.

The G-20 came into being in 1999 following the East Asian financial crisis and is an informal forum comprising major developed countries and leading emerging market economies representing around 90 per cent of global GDP, 85 per cent of world trade and two-thirds of humanity.

Ms Rao recalled that the G-20 had been traditionally meeting at the level of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. In the wake of the international financial and economic crisis, the first G-20 Summit was held in Washington on November 15 last year. This, she said, marked the arrival of dynamic emerging market countries at the global high table.

The Washington Declaration included:

• Common understanding of the causes of the global crisis

• Strong message for restoring confidence and stability

• Measures for combating the crisis and restoring growth

• Launch of an action plan

The London Summit on April 2 this year had issued a communiqué which addressed the broad themes or issues relating to:

• Ambitious stimulus and growth measures including pledge to mobilize $1.1 trillion in resources for the international financial institutions mainly to sustain growth in emerging markets.

• Strong regulatory package

• Commitment against protectionism in all its forms

• Strengthening and expansion of the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) now called the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS)

Ms Rao said the steps taken by the G-20 to augment the resources of the multilateral development banks (MDBs) had led to substantial stepping up of World Bank lending to India. Likewise, the G-20 pressure on the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to enhance its capital is likely to increase infrastructure funding for India.

The steps taken by the G-20 to stabilize financial markets and the global economy can be expected to lead to an early revival of private capital flows, and a step up in domestic growth through revival of external demand and exports, she said.

The Foreign Secretary said the Pittsburg Summit would take the process forward.

"Without trying to pre-judge the Summit results or to speculate on the details, the Leaders could be expected to review the international financial and economic parameters since the London Summit and take stock of the improving situation including the emerging green shoots of recovery since then. While the earlier G-20 Summits had focused on immediate action to contain a rapidly deteriorating downward spiral, the Pittsburg Summit is likely to take a more long-term view of the global economy. The Leaders can also be expected to review the Washington and the London Summit measures adopted and implemented so far and their impact," she said.

According to her, they could be expected to exchange views on stimulus and growth measures while planning exit strategies with caution, review the regulatory framework, reiterate commitment against protectionism, focus on reforms of the international financial institutions, redress the requirements of mobilizing resources for the poor developing countries, send out a strong and clear political message calling for a balanced and successful outcome of the climate change negotiations in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Copenhagen and chart a roadmap for the future .

The leaders are expected to issue a Summit Declaration at the end of their discussions.

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Judges of Allahabad, Uttarakhand High Courts transferred

The President has transferred Mr Justice Taran Agarwala, Judge of the Allahabad High Court, as a Judge of Uttarakhand High Court.


The President has also transferred Mr Justice Jiwan Chandra Singh Rawat, Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, as a Judge of the Jharkhand High Court.


Both judges have been asked to assume charge of their new offices on or before October 3, an official press release added.


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Neo-literates, teachers meet President

President Pratibha Patil and Human resources Minister Kapil Sibal with a group of neo-literates and voluntary teachers from across India, who called on her in Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on September 22, 2009.
President Pratibha Patil and Human resources Minister Kapil Sibal with a group of neo-literates and voluntary teachers from across India, who called on her in Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on September 22, 2009."

A group of more than 100 neo-literate women and voluntary teachers from all over India met President Pratibha Patil, who pointed out that, despite the tangible progress in reducing illiteracy since Independence, even today one-third of Indians were still illiterate.

The women and the teachers are part of the Saakshar Bharat Mission, which was launched by the Union Government on September 8 this year, which is aimed at reducing female illiteracy in India.

Ms Patil said half of the illiterates in the country were women and said it was absolutely to eliminate the large-scale illiteracy amongst women in the country.

The President said she was also happy that the mission also had a component aimed at providing skill development to women. She was also happy to note that Panchayati Raj institutions were part of the process and called for the involvement of Self-Help Groups.

Ms Patil also had a special word of praise for the group of voluntary teachers and said they were engaged in the noble task of sharing and spreading knowledge.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said the mission could produce even better results if it truly took the shape of a national movement involving men, women and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

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Two H1N1 deaths in India, 324 new cases

Two more influenza A (H1N1) deaths were reported from India today, taking the toll due to the virus in the country so far to 262, an official statement said.

One of the deaths occurred in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra and the other in Delhi. Besides, the Karnataka government has informed the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare that three deaths reported on September 18-19 have been confirmed as cases of swine flu by laboratory tests.

The statement said one suspected H1N1 death had also been reported in Gujarat but the results of the laboratory tests were still awaited.

With these, Maharashtra now accounts for 107 of the deaths reported so far, while 82 have lost their lives in Karnataka, 26 in Gujarat, 22 in Andhra Pradesh, 9 in Delhi, 4 in Kerala, 3 each in Tamil Nadu and Goa, 2 in Haryana and 1 each in Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, as many as 324 fresh cases of the flu were reported from across the country, including 106 in Delhi, 67 in Maharashtra, 43 in Tamil Nadu, 28 in Andhra Pradesh, 21 in Haryana, 20 in Karnataka, 18 in Uttar Pradesh, 12 in Assam, 3 in Kerala, 2 each in Chandigarh and Gujarat, and 1 each in West Bengal and Nagaland.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported so far in India has crossed the 8000-mark and touched 8477, the statement added.

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E. Ahamed to represent India at inauguration of Saudi Science University

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has nominated Minister of State for Railways E Ahamed to represent India at the inauguration of the King Abdullah Universityof Science & Technology in Saudi Arabia tomorrow.


An official press release said the university, spread over about 6000 acres, is located at Thuvval, about 80 km from Jeddah.


Dr Singh and other world leaders had been invited to attend the inaugural function of the university, which is expected to be a landmark in the history of the kingdom. Saudi Arabia's Minister of Commerce had personally visited Delhi to invite Dr Singh to the event, the release added.


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Mukherjee briefed on Air India's turnaround plan

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee held a meeting here today with Civil Aviation Secretary M Madhavan Nambia and Air India Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Jadhav to review the airline's turnaround plan, official sources said.

The national carrier is facing a severe financial crisis and the government is looking at a proposal for equity infusion of Rs 5000 crore, spread over a period of three years, into it.

The airline and the Civil Aviation Ministry have been working on a turnaround plan for Air India in consultation with a Committee of Secretaries (CoS) headed by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar.

At today's meeting, it is learnt that Mr Nambiar and Mr Jadhav briefed Mr Mukherjee about the steps being taken by the airline to cut flab and reduce expenses.

Mr Mukherjee is understood to have made it clear that any government assistance to the airline would have to be preceded by concrete steps by the compay to reduce costs even further and increase savings.

The Board of Directors of Air India is likely to meet later this week to discuss these and related issues, the sources said.

Earlier, the turnaround plan, which includes cost reduction, revenue enhancement and business transformation measures, had been presented to the CoS on August 29.

As part of the cost reduction measures, Air India had last month decided to reduce the Productivity Linked Incentive (PLI) to its employees and the flying allowance paid to crew by 50 per cent till an alternate formula for governing PLI is put in place within a three-month period.

The Board of Directors of the national carrier also decided to evolve an alternative formula for governing incentives, linked to the company’s expected performance in terms of on-time performance, yields, seat factors, operating margins and profitability.

Air India, like many other airlines around the world, is facing a severe liquidity crunch on account of falling markets and high input costs.

The airline, which had to delay payment of salaries to its employees in June, has approached the government for help to overcome its difficulties and face growing competition better.

Among other things, the CoS had decided that the airline should appoint a Cost Auditor immediately to monitor, review and ensure that the cost reduction and operational efficiencies were effected.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel had said earlier that independent directors would be brought into the airline and a professional Chief Operating Officer would be inducted to assist the company's Chairman and Managing Director.

He said SBI Capital had been appointed to suggest a road map for the financial restructuring of the company in the short and medium term.

In July, Mr Patel had told Parliament that the accumulated losses of the National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL), which runs Air India after its merger with Indian Airlines, as on March 31 this year, were likely to be in the region of Rs 7200 crore.

He said that Air India and Indian Airlines had incurred losses of Rs 541.30 crore and Rs 230.97 crore, respectively, during 2006-07 before the merger.

He said that, in 2007-08, the combined airline posted a loss of Rs. 2226 crores and during 2008-09, the expected loss is approximately Rs.5000 crores.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had made a special mention of the airline in his Independence Day address on August 15, saying that the government was giving careful attention to the problems of Air India and would resolve them soon.

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Seven more H1N1 deaths in India, 228 new cases

Seven more influenza A (H1N1) deaths were reported from India today, taking the toll due to the virus in the country so far to 257, an official statement said.

Three of the deaths were reported from Maharashtra (2 in Pune, 1 in Nagpur), three from Gujarat (1 each in Gandhinagar, Vadodara and Surat) and one in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

Besides, the Karnataka Government today informed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that ten deaths that took place between September 8 and 18 had been confirmed as cases of swine flu by laboratory tests. Moreover, four other suspected H1N1 deaths have occurred in the state, but results of laboratory tests are still awaited, the statement said.

With these, Maharashtra now accounts for 106 of the deaths reported so far, while 79 have lost their lives in Karnataka, 26 in Gujarat, 22 in Andhra Pradesh, 8 in Delhi, 4 in Kerala, 3 each in Tamil Nadu and Goa, 2 in Haryana and 1 each in Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, as many as 228 fresh cases of the flu were reported from across the country, including 59 in Delhi, 49 in Maharashtra, 32 in Andhra Pradesh, 30 in Tamil Nadu, 26 in Haryana, 13 in Karnataka, 11 in Kerala, 7 in Gujarat and 1 in Bihar.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported so far in India has crossed the 8000-mark and touched 8153, the statement added.

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Quake jolts Bhutan, parts of north-east India

An earthquake of moderate intensity struck the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan this afternoon, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.


The IMD said the quake, with a magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale, rocked the region at 14.23 hours.


The quake had its epicentre at 27.3 N latitude and 91.5 East longitude, the IMD said in a preliminary report.


Tremors were also felt in Bangaldesh and the north-eastern region of India, reports reaching here added.


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Eid-ul-Fitr celebrated across India with fervour

Muslims praying at Delhi's historic Jama Masjid on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. Netindian Photo by Partha Sarkar.
Muslims praying at Delhi's historic Jama Masjid on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. Netindian Photo by Partha Sarkar."

Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramzan and the first day of the month of Shawwal, was celebrated across the country with traditional fervour and solemnity.

One of the largest such congregations was at the historic Jama Masjid in the capital, where people prayed for peace and prosperity.

People greeted each other and visited friends on the occasion. They also enjoyed elaborate feasts, which included special dishes such as "sewayians", a sweet item made of vermicelli.

Muslims praying at Delhi's historic Jama Masjid on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Muslims praying at Delhi's historic Jama Masjid on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. Netindian Photo by Partha Sarkar.

Police all over the country had made elaborate arrangements to ensure security and regulate traffic in view of the festival.

Muslims all over the country, dressed in new clothes, gathered in their thousands in mosques all over the country and offered prayers.

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8 more H1N1 deaths in India, 253 new cases

Eight more deaths due to influenza A (H1N1) were reported from India today, taking the toll due to the virus in the country so far to 240, an official statement said.


Two of the deaths were reported from Maharashtra---1 each in Mumbai and Pune and two each from Bangalore in Karnataka, Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh and Surat in Gujarat.


Besides, one death reported in Andhra Pradesh yesterday was today confirmed as a case of swine flu after the receipt of the results of the laboratory tests conducted on the patient.


With these, Maharashtra now accounts for 103 of the deaths reported so far, while 69 have lost their lives, 23 in Gujarat, 21 in Andhra Pradesh, 8 in Delhi, 4 in Kerala, 3 each in Tamil Nadu and Goa, 2 in Haryana and 1 each in Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.


Meanwhile, as many as 253 fresh cases of the flu were reported from across the country, including 93 in Delhi, 54 in Haryana, 36 in Maharashtra, 17 in Tamil Nadu, 16 in Uttar Pradesh, 15 in Karnataka, 8 in Andhra Pradesh, 5 in Kerala, 3 each in Chandigarh and Gujarat, 2 in Uttarakhand and 1 in West Bengal.


With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported so far in India has gone up to 7925, the statement added.


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PM undergoes routine medical check-up

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underwent a routine medical check-up yesterday, just days before he is scheduled to leave for the G-20 Summit at Pittsburg in the United States, official sources said today.

The check-up was conducted by a team of four doctors led by Dr Srinath Reddy, who heads a treatment committee for the Prime Minister. The team included Dr Ramakant Panda from Mumbai, who had conducted a coronary bypass surgery on the Prime Minister on January 24 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here.

The sources told NetIndian that the doctors said that Dr Singh, 76, was absolutely fine. They said that he had attended a three-hour meeting of the Congress leadership today.

Dr Singh is scheduled to leave here on Wednesday morning for the two-day G-20 Summit on September 24-25.

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President, VP, PM greet people on Id-ul-Fitr

President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today greeted the people on the occasion of Id-ul-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramzan.

"Idu’l Fitr brings joy and happiness at the culmination of the Holy month of Ramzan. May this festival strengthen mutual goodwill and inspire each one of us to follow the path of love, compassion and tolerance," the President said in her message.

"Id-ul-Fitr symbolises compassion, brotherhood and the spirit of sharing. May this festival fill our lives with peace, prosperity and harmony and promote fraternity among the people of our country," Mr Ansari said in his message.

Dr Singh said the festival commemorated austerity, brotherhood and the spirit of sharing.

"It reflects the true spirit of our composite culture. May the festival strengthen our resolve to promote tolerance and peace and live in harmony." he added.

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Narayanan says lives in dread of another 26/11-type attack

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan has said that he lives in almost daily dread of another terror strike similar to the November 26, 2008 attacks on Mumbai.

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan during the interview by Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN on Saturday.
National Security Adviser M K Narayanan during the interview by Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN on Saturday."

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan has said that he lives in almost daily dread of another terror strike similar to the November 26, 2008 attacks on Mumbai.

" I would say that this is something that not merely I, but I think all the members of the security architecture or security force, live with," he told journalist Karan Thapar on the Devil's Advocate show on CNN-IBN.

Mr Narayanan said that there was a daily meeting taken by the Home Minister, at which he is also present, where many pieces of intelligence passed across their tables.

According to him, many of them could be weeded out, but there were quite a few, which if not nipped in the bud and if they escaped those at the meeting, could lead to another attack.

"It is difficult to say whether we’ll have another Mumbai because I think we are better prepared for that kind of a situation - but it could be quite serious," he said.

Asked about the terrorist threats from across the border that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had referred to recently, Mr Narayanan said that, primarily, the intelligence that the government had was that terrorists wished to strike at targets which could create to widespread mayhem.

He said the inputs were sometimes about a religious place being targeted or a building which houses a large number of people or an institution where there were a lot of people.

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan being interviewed by journalist Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN on Saturday.
National Security Adviser M K Narayanan being interviewed by journalist Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN on Saturday."

"But the basic point is that if you take the totality, the totality of what is taking place, it is to create as much destruction for the sake of destruction. Our concern is that if you really have a problem of this kind and even in Mumbai, for instance, you could very well have had a situation where because the attack came from Pakistan, people would see it as some Muslims are responsible. That could have been but the greatness of the Indian people is that they did not accept this neither the Hindus nor the Muslims or other communities. So that is our concern, we are worried that something might sometimes trigger off a reaction which we are not able to control," he said.

In reply to a question, Mr Narayanan said that some of Pakistan's actions scared him because they only served to create problems for India.

Asked whether, in these circumstances, any purpose would be served by the planned meetings between the Foreign Secretaries and the Foreign Ministers of the two countries later this month in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Narayanan said the "restricted dialogue mechanism" would continue.

"We are hoping that as a civilized nation although with a civilian leadership not very much in control but hopefully anxious to do something - somewhere, sometime the forces arranged against us operating from Pakistan can be brought to book," he said.

Asked how realistic that hope was, he said, "I’ve always been seen as a hawk so I don’t want to comment on that but I live in hope anyways...Slim hope but I think if we don’t have hope you cannot achieve anything."

Mr Narayanan said that what the Prime Minister had said in July at Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, after meeting his Pakistani counterpart, was the policy that is laid down: that dialogue is the way forward.

Journalist Karan Thapar interviewing National Security Adviser M K Narayanan on CNN-IBN on Saturday.
Journalist Karan Thapar interviewing National Security Adviser M K Narayanan on CNN-IBN on Saturday."

"We are not talking in terms of a conflict with Pakistan...I think quite clearly dialogue is the way forward. At the moment, the issue is the dialogue should be essentially confined to discussing terrorism. We need comfort on this issue. Apart from Mumbai there are other issues and therefore we will not expand the range or the scope of the dialogue till there is a fair amount of comfort. That is more or less the context in which the statements have been made by the prime minister or others," he explained.

To a question if Dr Singh had lost his nerve or changed his mind after the criticism of the India-Pakistan Joint Statement issued in Sharm el Sheikh, Mr Narayanan said, "Many people know the prime minister better than I do. But I think there is steel in the Prime Minister."

"When he says something he stands by it. He is committed to the dialogue; he also understands the limits of the dialogue at different stages or phases," he said.

Mr Narayanan said that Pakistan's stand on the evidence that India had provided by India with regard to the involvement of Jamaat ud Dawaa chief Hafiz Saeed in the Mumbai terror attack raised a big question mark about where that country stood on the issue of terrorism.

"Pakistan’s point is that whatever information or evidence that has been provided by India is inadequate to nail Hafiz Saeed and they say that if we did go up and try to get a conviction it will be thrown out, the Supreme Court will sort of condemn us. It’s really a question of how you are willing to marshal the evidence that has been given and put it in court," he said.

"Now in this case if you take the Hafiz Saeed dossier that has been provided - I think maybe I have probably the longest association with terrorism in one form or the other, actually counterterrorism not so much terrorism - I think we have marshalled almost grade one evidence. You have the evidence from three people, three human beings, three terrorists, admitted terrorists (Ajmal) Kasab, Fahim Ansari, Sohrabuddin, who talk of how Hafiz Saeed had come, talked to them, what he had said etc apart from other connecting evidence. I agree, one can never be sure what a court would do with that kind of evidence. But if you are not willing - in the context of saying what you said in Sharm-el-Sheikh to ensure that terrorism is stamped out - you are not even willing to test that, it certainly leaves in our mind a big question mark as to where Pakistan stands on terrorism," he said.

Mr Narayanan said that unless Pakistan was willing to take action against the two main terrorist groups--the LeT and Jaish--which are targeting India, everything else they said or did was rhetoric from India's point of view.

In this context, he said the FIRs filed in Pakistan against Hafiz Sayeed, which are not connected to the Mumbai terror attack, did not add to Pakistan's credibility.

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PM to attend G-20 Summit at Pittsburg on Sep 24-25

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will attend the third G-20 Summit that will be hosted by the United States at Pittsburgh on September 24-25 at which the leaders will take stock of the improving global economic situation and decide on some long-term measures and chart a roadmap for the future.

The Summit, which will be chaired by US President Barack Obama as the host, will be attended by leaders of the G-20 member-countries as well as top officials of the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and the Financial Stability Board.

Dr Singh will be accompanied by a high-level delegation that will include Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who is also the G-20 "Sherpa" from India, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and senior officials.

Briefing journalists about the visit, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said today that the preparatory process for the Summit had included meetings of the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors as well as meetings of the G-20 Sherpas earlier this month.

Dr Singh, who will reach Pittsburg on September 24, will attend a reception and a dinner hosted by the US President that evening.

On September 25, there will be a Summit Plenary, a Leaders' Lunch and a Concluding Plenary in the afternoon. Dr Singh will leave Pittsburg the same evening.

During his stay in Pittsburg, Dr Singh will also interact with the leaders of other G-20 countries for discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest.

The G-20 came into being in 1999 following the East Asian financial crisis and is an informal forum comprising major developed countries and leading emerging market economies representing around 90 per cent of global GDP, 85 per cent of world trade and two-thirds of humanity.

Ms Rao recalled that the G-20 had been traditionally meeting at the level of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. In the wake of the international financial and economic crisis, the first G-20 Summit was held in Washington on November 15 last year. This, she said, marked the arrival of dynamic emerging market countries at the global high table.

The Washington Declaration included:

• Common understanding of the causes of the global crisis

• Strong message for restoring confidence and stability

• Measures for combating the crisis and restoring growth

• Launch of an action plan

The London Summit on April 2 this year had issued a communiqué which addressed the broad themes or issues relating to:

• Ambitious stimulus and growth measures including pledge to mobilize $1.1 trillion in resources for the international financial institutions mainly to sustain growth in emerging markets.

• Strong regulatory package

• Commitment against protectionism in all its forms

• Strengthening and expansion of the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) now called the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS)

Ms Rao said the steps taken by the G-20 to augment the resources of the multilateral development banks (MDBs) had led to substantial stepping up of World Bank lending to India. Likewise, the G-20 pressure on the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to enhance its capital is likely to increase infrastructure funding for India.

The steps taken by the G-20 to stabilize financial markets and the global economy can be expected to lead to an early revival of private capital flows, and a step up in domestic growth through revival of external demand and exports, she said.

The Foreign Secretary said the Pittsburg Summit would take the process forward.

"Without trying to pre-judge the Summit results or to speculate on the details, the Leaders could be expected to review the international financial and economic parameters since the London Summit and take stock of the improving situation including the emerging green shoots of recovery since then. While the earlier G-20 Summits had focused on immediate action to contain a rapidly deteriorating downward spiral, the Pittsburg Summit is likely to take a more long-term view of the global economy. The Leaders can also be expected to review the Washington and the London Summit measures adopted and implemented so far and their impact," she said.

According to her, they could be expected to exchange views on stimulus and growth measures while planning exit strategies with caution, review the regulatory framework, reiterate commitment against protectionism, focus on reforms of the international financial institutions, redress the requirements of mobilizing resources for the poor developing countries, send out a strong and clear political message calling for a balanced and successful outcome of the climate change negotiations in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Copenhagen and chart a roadmap for the future .

The leaders are expected to issue a Summit Declaration at the end of their discussions.

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Three H1N1 deaths in India, 298 new cases

Three more deaths due to influenza A (H1N1) have been reported from India today, taking the toll due to the virus in the country so far to 231, an official statement said.


One death each was reported during the day from Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, Surat in Gujarat and Pune in Maharashtra.


Besides, three deaths reported from Maharashtra on Thursday have now been confirmed as cases of swine flu.


The statement said that one more death had been reported during the day from Andhra Pradesh but the results of the laboratory tests on the patient were still awaited.


With these, the toll in Maharashtra has now crossed the 100-mark to reach 101. The pandemic has claimed 67 lives in Karnataka, 21 in Gujarat, 18 in Andhra Pradesh, 8 in Delhi, 4 in Kerala, 3 each in Tamil Nadu and Goa, 2 in Haryana and 1 each in Uttarakhand, Chhatisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.


Meanwhile, as many as 298 fresh cases of the flu were reported from across the country, including 116 in Delhi, 58 in Maharashtra, 32 in Tamil Nadu, 23 in Andhra Pradesh, 21 in Karnataka, 20 in Kerala, 16 in Haryana, 7 in Uttar Pradesh, and 5 in Gujarat.


With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported so far in India has gone up to 7672, the statement added.


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